What is the Public Force of Costa Rica?


The Public Force of Costa Rica is the country’s law enforcement force, which performs policing and border patrol functions.

Brief History

On 01 December 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica abolished the military of Costa Rica after achieving victory in the Costa Rican Civil War that year. In a ceremony in the Cuartel Bellavista, in the capital San José, Figueres broke a wall with a mallet symbolising an end to Costa Rica’s military spirit.

In 1949, the abolition of the military was introduced in Article 12 of the Constitution of Costa Rica. The budget previously dedicated to the military is now dedicated to security, education and culture. Costa Rica maintains Police Guard forces.

The museum Museo Nacional de Costa Rica was placed in the Cuartel Bellavista as a symbol of commitment to culture. In 1986, President Oscar Arias Sánchez declared 01 December as the Día de la Abolición del Ejército (Military abolition day) with Law #8115. Unlike its neighbours, Costa Rica has not endured a civil war since 1948. Costa Rica maintains small forces capable of law enforcement, but has no permanent standing army.

Public Force of the Ministry of Public Security (1996)

In 1996, the Ministry of Public Security established the Fuerza Pública or Public Force, a gendarmerie which reorganised and eliminated the Civil Guard, Rural Assistance Guard, and Frontier Guards as separate entities. They are now under the Ministry and operate on a geographic command basis performing ground security, law enforcement, counter-narcotics, border patrol, and tourism security functions. The Costa Rica Coast Guard also operates directly under the Ministry.

Outside the Fuerza Pública, there is a small Special Forces Unit, the Unidad Especial de Intervencion (UEI) or Special Intervention Unit, an elite commando service which trains with special services from around the world, but is not part of the main police service. Instead it is part of the Intelligence and Security Directorate (DIS) which reports directly to the Minister of the Presidency. With about 70 members, it is organised along military lines, although officially a civilian police unit.

The motto of the Public Force is “God, Fatherland, and Honour.” Commissioner of Police Juan José Andrade Morales serves as its current Commissioner General.


  • Comisario de Policía/ Director general de la Fuerza Pública.
  • Comisionado de Policía.
  • Comandante de Policía.
  • Oficiales de Escala Ejecutiva.
  • Capitán de Policía.
  • Intendente.
  • Sub Intendente.
  • Oficiales de Escala Básica.
  • Sargento de Policía.
  • Inspector.
  • Agente 2.
  • Agente 1.

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