Crime in Costa Rica will continue to spiral out of control until the country’s leadership understands that hiring more police without the addition of more prison bed space is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I suppose it is politically easier to hire a bunch of low-paid and undertrained “officers,” as opposed to building a real criminal justice system that can enhance both the safety and the economy of the nation. Too bad, because Costa Rica’s citizens deserve much better.
I toured a police station in Alajuela a few years ago. I was impressed with the individual officers, but not their training or equipment. Even most of their handcuffs were malfunctioning. Dangerous situation for the officers, the public and even the criminals.
After years of hearing about tourists being car jacked near Juan Santamaría airport, the problem still isn’t solved. Tourism police don’t seem to know how to conduct even the most basic sting operations. Wouldn’t matter if they did. Jails don’t have any more space. The current solution? Underreport the crimes.
The popular beach spots on both the Pacific and Caribbean have been out of control for the last several years. Gringo Gulch is filled with organized crime that could be eradicated within 90 days with the right approach.
I love Costa Rica, but I don’t plan on visiting again until I see their government taking a serious and systematic approach to its crime problems.
For those Costa Rican business people worried about the impact my letter and others like it will have on tourism or real estate, don’t blame the messenger. I already can imagine the flood of letters coming in talking about how great life is in Pura Vida land, and that we shouldn’t focus on the negative. Sorry, but you can put perfume on a pig, but it is still a pig.
Costa Rica is not alone in having serious crime problems, but that is no excuse for its leaders to fail to appropriately address the issue.