Colombia fires more than 1,400 police in corruption crackdown

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s national police force has fired more than 1,400 officers over the past 80 days in a crackdown on corruption, the country’s top law enforcement official said on Wednesday.

The 180,000-strong police force has let go of nearly 18 officers per day since General Jorge Hernando Nieto took over leadership of the organization in February, he told journalists.

The dismissals are part of a “zero tolerance for corruption,” Nieto said, as the force seeks to improve its public image after recent scandals, including one connecting high-level officials to a prostitution ring.

Almost 400 officers were removed from their posts because of corruption cases - everything from participation in drug trafficking to taking bribes. Others are under investigation for disciplinary issues, administrative failures or other reasons, Nieto said.

Colombia’s police are key players in the fight against the country’s leftist rebel groups and violent crime gangs, founded by remnants of right-wing paramilitary groups.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Helen Murphy and Jeffrey Benkoe