Fuerza Pública officers getting new boots and uniforms

Laura Chinchilla hands an allocation of boots and uniforms to Luis Arroyo, a police officer stationed in Alajuela. Watching is Walter Navarro, security vice minister. Photo: Casa Presidencial

President Laura Chinchilla staged a ceremony Thursday in which she handed out new boots and uniforms to Fuerza Pública officers. The delivery was meant to represent some 12,719 pairs of boots, 16,000 uniforms and 7,637 bulletproof vests that are being distributed to officers under the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Ms. Chinchilla coupled the ceremony with a call to the legislature to act on measures to provide more money for security.

Changing her point of view, Ms. Chinchilla said that citizen security is the biggest problem that Costa Rica has. She said the lawmakers should listen to the citizens.

Although the Chinchilla administration has withdrawn a bill that would have taxed casinos and other betting operations to pay for security, there still is a proposal to tax every corporation some $300 a year for police funds.

And then there is Ms. Chinchilla’s overhaul of the nation’s tax system that would impose a 14 percent value-added tax on transactions instead of the current 13 percent sales tax.

Ms. Chinchilla said Thursday that Costa Rica spends less on its police than its neighbors, Panamá and Nicaragua.

The country has one police officer for every 350 residents, she said, adding that they are not distributed well. In some cases the proportion is one police officer for 750 residents or 1,200, she said. Panamá has one policeman for every 190 residents, she said.

Ms. Chinchilla has continued to relate citizen security to the number of police officers, and her administration has not proposed changes in any laws that might advance the effort against criminality.

Channel 7 television revisited the low-income La Carpio community Thursday night where there were seven policemen assigned to more than 13,000 residents. The television reporters said that all the police officers were in their station house and none were on patrol.

They reported that the number of officers will be more than doubled soon and the police vehicles that have been out of service will be repaired. The area is just west of the central city.

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