National Police Panama – Protect and Serve

Marlene Rokosh

The National Police making progress against crime in our beach communities!
Major Leslie Howard was assigned to his new post in September 2015. Major Howard is responsible for all police activities from Chorrera to San Carlos. “I fully understand and support local foreigners’ complaints. The authorities must protect all residents in Panama… it is our constitution.”
Major Howard takes his position very seriously. His personal goal is to change whatever necessary; do all in his power to make our beach communities an environment where families, visitors and business can feel safe, secure, and protected in their homes.

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Creation of police initiatives, positive actions, and reaching out to the community.
To increase awareness, improve safety and crime prevention. A series of meetings and visual presentations were organized by Major Howard and his team.
For example:
– La Teca restaurant in Coronado hosted a safety meeting for local residents and foreigners
– meetings were called with local businesses and Neighborhood Watch groups
– neighborhood residents met with police in San Carlos and Palmar
– Safety presentations were given to children in several local schools
– Major Howard required officers to attend special training English courses at Finca La Maya
– Police officers that recently did not respond to robbery reports in a timely and professional manner were reassigned. – Captain Raymundo Camargo Salas, who is in constant and direct communication with Major Howard, recently replaced the previous DIJ.
– El Commisionado Gilberto Samaniego, Jefe de la Decima Zona Policial, was assigned to this post at the same time as Major Howard and fully supports the positive changes and activities that have been implemented to improve security in Chame and San Carlos. (Zone 10 consists of Chorrera, Capira, Chame, and San Carlos)

Good news.

On 29 November, Police Director Omar Pinzon announced the creation of a new police zone that will cover the districts of Chame and San Carlos. “This is part of a strategic plan to reduce crime levels in West Panama, where there are growing populations and concentrations of foreign residents” said Pinzon. The creation of these zones will allow the department to better allocate resources such as more officers, vehicles and equipment and to increase patrols in the areas. [Currently Chame and San Carlos have 2 patrol cars each. With the new police district, the government has promised 3 additional cars, as well as more personnel, expected to arrive in 2016.]

With the heightened crime activity occurring during the holidays, local police officers are now required to work additional hours to their regular shift ensuring an overlap of

available officers. Round–the-clock officers now patrol the five commercial centers and nine banks located in the Coronado area.


With complaints and criticism by some residents, it is important that the public is made aware of the successes police actions and arrests have made in recent months.
– Ongoing drug intelligence operations such as “Operation Safe Beach” continue to pursue activity and make arrests from Chorrera to San Carlos.

– On 15 December, three rogue cops were arrested and one shot dead in a highway drug bust. These operations are part of plans “working on the integrity of the institution to become more transparent” said National Police Commissioner Omar Pinzon.
– Last month a local tip lead police to a beach in Gorgona where they dug up 451 kilos of marijuana.

– Recently in three separate incidents arrests have been made for possession of illegal arms.
– In La Ermita three adults were arrested and jailed for possession of 60 kilos of cocaine.

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Support our National Police: be part of the solution! (How can YOU help?)

The police stations, quarters, and offices in Chame and San Carlos have been under major re-construction to improve the extremely poor conditions of previous buildings. The new facilities will house both administrative and 24-hour active police officers. The paperwork required to purchase materials through the government’s fiscal offices is difficult, to say the least here in Panama!

To their great benefit, local businesses and individuals are directly supporting efforts, by donating time and materials to help our police force get their facilities complete and their jobs done.
COCHEZ made a large donation of building materials. As well, other businesses such as Cantera del Higo, Cemento InterOceanico, Riba Smith, ConcreteTech, among others.

CARLITO’s made a donation to help pay for english classes for the police officers. A few homeowners in Coronado purchased and donated a photocopier for the police station in Chame. Other individuals are volunteering language translation required to file documents for complaints and robberies. It’s too easy to complain… so BE PART OF THE SOLUTION!

The future.

Although Major Howard is continuing progress and initiatives, it is his sincere hope that the residents and businesses will continue to reach out to their local police. With support from friends, businesses in the community, and his superiors, Major Howard expects “to make our world a better, safer, place”.

One possibility to increase the connection and communication between police activities and the public could be to create a monthly report from police investigations, interventions and arrests. This could be posted online and in our local newspaper. Perhaps the police would be able to do a monthly briefing for reporters. It is important that locals hear GOOD NEWS about the National Police work.

We all need to depend on and support each other as neighbors, residents and citizens of this beautiful country we are so privileged to live in!

Police numbers in the Coronado area:

San Carlos: 240-8012
Coronado: 240-4222
Chame: 240-6666
Gorgona: 240-6033
Bejuco: 240-6023
Transito de Chame: 240-6127
D.I.J: 240-6061
Mayor Leslie Howard: 6747-7998
Become member of the Panama Help Line!  6599-3122

Visit the Panama National Police site here!

National Police Panama – Protect and Serve

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