PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is urging Latin American nations to use their police and not their military forces to enforce the law, saying the U.S. will help them build their capabilities.
Panetta says the U.S. realizes that it's sometimes difficult to decide if a threat requires the use of the military or law enforcement. But he says the use of the military to perform police duties cannot be a long-term solution and that civilian authorities must be able to shoulder the burden on their own.
He also is encouraging Latin American countries to approve a plan for a database that will allow the nations to better coordinate their responses to disasters.
Panetta is speaking at the 10th Conference of Ministers of Defense of the Americas.