Crime in the Dominican Republic is at a worrying peak, overwhelmed, and it is now, precisely, when many companies and people are behind paying for their private security, in the face of the deficiency of the public.
The companies that offer this service are willing to work and be auxiliaries to the authorities, but the State has them in a difficult situation, practically with “the game locked”, because they are prevented from importing weapons, lethal or non-lethal.
This import ban has been in force for 16 years, as explained by the president of the Dominican Association of Security Companies (Adesinc), Adi Grimberg, in his participation in the elCaribe-CDN Breakfast.
“We like to say work instruments, because they are the instruments that we use to take care of goods, lives, assets and properties in the country,” explained the business representative in addressing the issue, referring specifically to the issue of weapons.
“We serve the entire world, the entire industry… Airports, banks, docks, residences, houses, plants, factories, towers, etc. And to give that good service and good assistance we need work tools”, he specified.
He said that it is not just about having cameras, vehicles, alarms and uniforms, but that the main tool is required, which is a means of defense.
“And that defensive weapon can be a firearm, a pistol, a shotgun… and it can be a less lethal weapon; pepper spray, ammunition, bulletproof vests (…). But we don’t have that affordable either, because it’s prohibited,” lamented Adi Grimberg.
In Adesinc there are 28,000 men, while the entire sector has an estimated 48,000 (in the formal part), and there are almost 100,000 more in the informal sector, according to the organization’s numbers. This informality is the consequence of not having a legal framework or a law on the matter in the Dominican Republic, which is the base of the pyramid.
“Unfortunately, prevention is not measured here; the crime rate is measured, the crime rate is measured, but no one measures prevention. Our job is prevention”, says Grimberg in the conversation.
He regretted that these measurements are not carried out and made it clear that private security companies have the capacity to be auxiliaries to public security and contribute to citizen security, day and night, with men, resources and technical means.
“There are; they are already installed, they are running and they are working. Now, to do all this, which sounds very nice, we need a legal framework to be able to operate and to be able to have actors of the same level (all) ”, he explained.
He warned about the problems involved in having unfair competition, due to the high level of informality in security companies (some call them guardians) present in the national territory.
Grimberg attended the meeting in the company of the executive director of Adesinc, Katia Salomón, and Enver López, Communications coordinator.
The private security sector in the Dominican Republic has many challenges, and the absence of a law is one of them. There is no legal basis for this activity, contrary to what happens in other modern societies, which do have it.
From the point of view of the representative of private security companies, a law would allow the competent authorities to tighten, minimize or eliminate the presence of companies in the industry that work informally and outside of all rules, including those that do not comply with obligations taxes of any kind.
It is an informality that also affects those who contract the service, as well as citizens, because they receive a service of very low quality and high risk, including civil liability, if something happens.
Private security is the one that is exercised from the door to the inside, the public one is from the door to the outside. And both are highly important in the current context, taking into account the scourge of criminal activity in the country, at all hours of the day and night, regardless of the place.
“We try to minimize the risks, because ninety percent of our work is prevention, in the field of private security,” explained Adi Grimberg in the conversation.
It refers to the work carried out day and night by 70 companies that make up Adesinc and their staff, who contribute around 82 million hours of surveillance annually.
“And most importantly: It is working for the productive engine of the country’s economy. It is a job for men and women, and thanks to God and to that work, in many shops and establishments where we provide services, robberies are minimal”, indicated Grimberg.
He stressed that the companies that make up Adesinc are committed to continue working, although there is no legal framework. “We have an entity that supervises us, under a decree, and it supervises us very well and there are no problems there,” he said. He spoke without hesitation on the subject.
That supervisory institution referred to by the representative of Adesinc is the Superintendency of Surveillance and Private Security (SVSP), created by decree 1128-03, dated December 15, 2003.
It is an executing body, with the function of exercising control, regulation and supervision of private security companies, with the aim of verifying compliance by these entities, in accordance with the provisions of the regulations, internal regulations, instructions and circular.
Additionally, it is responsible for proposing authorizations or revocations of operating licenses to private security companies that must be evaluated by the board of directors. The SVSP is a dependency of the Ministry of Defence.
Behind them are families
According to the arithmetic calculations made by Adi Grimberg, for every private guard or watchman in the Dominican Republic there are at least five dependents and other indirect persons.
“And on top of that we don’t have a legal framework. And we ask ourselves: What sector is asking to be regulated? I don’t know any. We are asking for it, ”he maintained.
“Regulate me, supervise me, admonish me, supervise me. We are not asking for anything else, just that. It is a law that we ask to be able to provide a quality service, better training and better equipment, ”he added.
Adesinc was founded in January 1982 and incorporated with decree number 108-92, dated April 2, 1992.
Member companies pay a total of RD$3,000 million in payroll.
Reports from the entity indicate that its members pay an estimated RD$288 million a year to the treasury, about RD$457 million a year in social security and RD$30 million a year in their contributions to the National Institute for Professional Technical Training (Infotep). To offer these figures, the organization is taking as a basis the latest study carried out by Deloitte to the sector.
Deloitte (DTT) is a brand under which professionals who provide auditing, consulting, risk management, financial and tax advice are grouped for the world’s leading companies. It has a presence in the Dominican Republic.
The latest or most recent statistics that are available indicate that the contribution to Infotep is 40.9 million pesos, only from the Adesinc companies.
“And we seek that these contributions and contributions made by the sector are rewarded precisely for that, in professionalization, in the acquisition power of our work tools (from a bulletproof vest, to a boot and a firearm), which are the defense mechanisms of our officers”, argued the executive director of Adesinc, Katia Salomón.
“I say this because we want capable security officers and many times we criticize how a security officer looks and how he profiles himself or the weapon he has, which is sometimes an old weapon, however I have the weight of an import ban ”, he insisted.
Adesinc groups security companies in the modalities of surveillance, transportation of valuables, advice in this area, consulting and research, electronic security, VIP security, distributors of security equipment and its own security body.
Sentence and article of “relief”
In May of this year, the ruling of the Constitutional Court was notified, which declared article 14, number 2, literal F, of Law 631-16 on Carrying and Possession of Firearms contrary to the Magna Carta, which required surveillance companies to contract armed personnel over 30 years of age.
It is a step forward, it will allow guardian companies to hire younger staff. For years they have been criticized (rightly or not) for hiring older people.
The explanations offered by both Katia Salomón and the president made it clear that part of the problem resided in that impediment that was had to accommodate children under 30 years of age, if the function implied that they used weapons.
“It was very disconcerting and discriminatory to see thousands of citizens of a productive age, many with a family to support, and who, due to the provisions of that Law, could not dedicate themselves to working for our sector since they did not have the age to carry and possess weapons. of fire,” Solomon said.
In 2018, the Constitutional Court had been requested, via the lawyer Katia Salomón, to declare the aforementioned age limitation requirement unconstitutional, because it restricted and infringed supreme values and fundamental principles such as the right to work, legal certainty and the reasonableness of the norm, among others, which constitute the ideological objective of the constitution.
Demand, fear and resume
As insecurity has risen in the country, the demand for private security agents and technical means (alarms, cameras, and others) has also increased. The Adesinc data reflects this.
The largest “consumer” of private security is the financial sector, but the service is also offered to restaurants, schools, clinics, legal offices, colleges and others. “It is that we are service companies, as if you were talking about a maintenance, cleaning company. The country demands it”, stated the president of Adesinc. He is a connoisseur of the subject he is talking about. Adi Grimberg, an Argentine national and raised in Israel, was a second lieutenant in the navy in Israel. He has held advisory, instructor, coordinator, director and vice president positions in the private security sector, with more than 22 years of experience.
Scales according to the Salary Committee
Currently, Adi Grimberg is director of corporate projects at Security Force, a company that has the BASC international certification in security management.
He has been awarded for his support in achieving the company’s objectives to become a market leader. And they have recognized him for 15 years of delivery and dedication service in the Security Force company. Based on this experience, he states that the country demands protection and businesses sell protection and security.
“You enter a bank because you feel safe, whether in the parking lot or on the premises; either because there is a camera or because there are alarms. That is why I say that security sells and is an investment ”, he maintains. He highlighted that in a country like this (exporter-importer), the logistics chain is protected, and that is why security is in factories, docks, free zones and others.
The formal companies that are guardians are governed by the Labor Code and follow the provisions of the National Salary Committee, regarding the issue of salaries. Adesinc makes the precision because the issue of salaries often generates noise and it is said that they pay little or badly.