Venezuela has various state, metropolitan and municipal police forces, which together employ more than 18,000 people. The metropolitan police force of Caracas alone numbers over 9,000.
Throughout the country are police checkpoints (alcabalas), which were originally introduced in the colonial era to serve as tax-collecting points for the Spanish. They are manned by the National Guard or the Police and are common on the roads outside cities. Sometimes, traffic is stopped and ID and document checks carried out. By law, you must carry your passport and tarjeta de ingreso (entry-card) at all times. The latter is issued on arrival in Venezuela. Approach the Alcabalas slowly and stop if asked. These checkpoints may appear rather intimidating, but are an everyday sight for road users and you will soon get used to them.
In the event of the theft or loss of your passport, contact the police as soon as possible to make a report (denuncia). You will be given a copy of the report, which acts as temporary ID and is needed for insurance claims.
Policía Técnica Judicial (PTJ, pronounced pay-tay-hota) is a criminal police force under the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for crime investigation (including passport theft, etc). They wear black uniforms or plain clothes.
Guardia Nacional (National Guard) is a paramilitary force run by the Ministry of Defense to provide national security within the country and at its frontiers. They are present at the alcabalas and border checkpoints, and patrol the coast. They are recognizable by their green camouflage uniforms.
Policía Metropolitana (Metropolitan Police) wear blue uniforms and patrol the cities to keep the peace.
Policía Municipal (Municipal Police) have a similar role and patrol the districts. Their uniform is light brown.
Vigilancia de Transito (Transport Police) is an organization run by the Ministry of the Interior. They patrol highways in white vehicles and wear brown uniforms.
DISIP (Dirección de los Servicios de Inteligencia y Prevención, Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services) is an internal security force under the Ministry of the Interior. They dress either in black uniforms or plain clothes and drive yellow and black cars.
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