Introduction to Law Enforcement in Costa Rica
San José, Costa Rica
Area of Study
Criminology, Government, Pre-Law, Public Policy Studies
Taught In English
Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4 - 5
Hours & Credits
Course Title: Introduction to Law Enforcement in Costa Rica
Course code: SOCY-2100
Total contact hours & credits: 48 hours 3 credits
This course will be providing to the student a general knowledge about law enforcement in Costa Rica, according to national and international legislation
in constitutional and human rights. Critical analysis will be developed, and students will be able to generate conversations and discussions about different
criminal policies between Costa Rica and their countries to contribute from their different areas in crime prevention.
This course corresponds to the criminology area, it is a theoretical-practical course and it seeks to clarify the following question:
How to use the law enforcement criminal policies of Costa Rica to contribute to crime prevention?
In order to answer this question, this course will study the following:
● Costa Rican Legal System
● Law enforcement in Costa Rica
● Crime prevention policies of Costa Rica
Along the course, the following skills will be fostered:
● Ability to identify the main elements in Costa Rican legal system
● Ability to analyze criminal policies used by law enforcement police units in Costa Rica
● Ability to contribute in crime prevention from different environments on his/her country
Some of the values and attitudes fostered among students are the following:
● Problem solving
● Systemic thinking
● Learning how to learn
● Teamwork and leadership
● Empathic and reliable negotiation
● Respect for minorities and diversity
● Logical and communicative intelligence
Competencies, criteria and evidence
At Veritas University competencies are reflexive and integrated actions that respond to the professional profile and to context issues ideally and ethically
through the integration of abilities, skills and knowledge. What follows are the discipline and core competencies and their correspondent key competencies
and evidence of learning for this course.
Competencies, criteria and evidences
Competencies Key competences Evidence of learning
Analyze the different criminal
policies and law enforcement
in Costa Rica, to contribute in
crime prevention, based on
national and international
Identify the main elements that
characterize the Costa Rican legal
system, considering its
constitutional and human rights
Analyze the different criminal
policies executed in Costa Rica,
considering the different police units
of law enforcement in the country.
Written and oral
Apply crime prevention policies to a
specific environment, considering
the criminal policies and law
Group problem solving project
UNIT 1: Costa Rican Legal System
1. Structure of the Three Powers of Costa Rica
2. Humans Rights, Constitutional and Criminal legislation in Costa Rica
3. Institutions relate with the criminal justice or law enforcement in Costa Rica
UNIT 2: Law enforcement in Costa Rica
4. Crime situation
5. Crime Investigation in Costa Rica
6. Different policies units in Costa Rica
7. Prison population
8. Resocialization policy in penitentiary system
UNIT 3: Crime prevention policies of Costa Rica
9. Firearms policy
10. Private security
11. Local/community security
12. Business security
This is an introductory course that seeks to generate in students’ general knowledge about law enforcement system in Costa Rica to help in crime prevention
on different environments. Activities are planned at a basic level and promote problem-based learning through cases analysis, group activities, reading
discussions, researches and presentations.
Problem-based learning methodology focuses on the student, so the student can acquire the competencies through real life situations by solving problems
related to crime and law enforcement to help in crime prevention. The purpose of this methodology is to educate students for can be able to analyze and
face problems in the same way they will, not only in professional stage, but in other environments of their lives too, which will lead them the acquisition of
The following learning strategies will be executed:
● Class discussion: Students will read different articles given by the teacher at first day of class, concerning constitutional and human rights
principles in Costa Rica. The idea is to generate in the student the capacity to identify the main elements that characterize the Costa Rican legal
system and how to communicate in an assertive way to their classmates and teacher. Through the classes, a group discussion will take place, in
which each student is expected to provide key questions and a comparison analysis with their own countries context.
● Individual research: Each student conducts a bibliographic research about the different institutions related to criminal justice or law enforcement
in Costa Rica. The purpose is the student to identify the main elements that characterize the Costa Rican legal system and communicate them in
a written report. Student is expected to provide a written research with the principal functions and characterizes of these institutions and indicated
to what Power belongs. The institutions are: Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, Ministerio de Justicia y Paz and Organismo de Investigación
● Case studies: Student will study in small group, different cases related to the current situation of crime in Costa Rica and the judicial investigation
of that cases. The purpose is for student to analyze the different policies that the law enforcement forces apply to prevent or control crime. Student
is expected to develop a class discussion group relating the information received about the cases and indicating the pros and cons that these
policies could have in their own countries contexts. These cases are: Liberia Multiple Homicide (2017). Los Tumbadores (2015). Rino (2009-
2017). Serial killer Adrián Arroyo Gutiérrez (2014-2015).
● Oral presentations: Students develop two (2) oral presentations in small groups about the different police units and the penitentiary policies
in Costa Rica applied by law enforcement forces, the professor will communicate the specific topic in advanced. The purpose is for the students
to analyze the criminal policies and communicate it in oral form, a written report will accompany the oral presentation.
● Group solving/problem: In small groups, students will develop an oral presentation proposing alternatives or viable solutions to crime problem in
their countries, applying the information learned during the course and adapting it to different environments. Through the classes the teacher will
provide guidance to the students, so they can develop the project during the unit 3.
In order to guarantee good development of the course, therefore to guarantee learning, the following resources are available: An updated bibliographic
database, multimedia equipment that students can use for their individual presentations; whiteboards and other school equipment for weekly sessions, and
readings provided by the educator. All of these complement the suggested projects and provide the students with higher possibilities of knowledge own
ship. Most of the lessons will take place in the classroom.
During independent work periods students will be able to attend the institution. A campus library, study rooms, and computer labs are available for the
students´ independent work time. Free Wi-Fi connection for students, educators, and staff is provided on campus, which gives students the possibility to
work not only in the library or computer labs, but also around campus.
In order to make the course or program better competencies-based evaluation compiles and evaluates evidence by taking into account feedback providing
pre-established criteria. The course evaluation must be aligned with the competencies and the teaching methodology. There is a rubric for each evaluation
resource. Even though the rubric grants a grade, it is also a quantitative and qualitative description of the students´ performance. The rubrics include the
core and discipline key competences.
Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.
Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.
Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations