Let Loose the Scorpions! Building Police Capacity in Postconflict Communities

By John Blaney, Center for Complex Operations
October 31, 2010

Scorpion SAWeak states and postconflict transitions typically feature high levels of official corruption and transnational organized crime. In post-apartheid South Africa, an elite police unit called “the Scorpions” was created to confront such challenges and quickly achieved a conviction rate of 90 percent. Crucial to its success were its small size, focused mission, advanced investigative techniques, and, most importantly, its autonomy from political interference. The unit was disbanded after investigating one too many politicians, but clearly demonstrated the value of investigative units and apolitical police forces.

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Security Topics: Police Sector Reform