Police official on Caribbean coast says crime is diminishing

Police officials around the Caribbean coast report that although they still have more work to do, they are making progress in reducing crime in the area.

In the last year, criminal arrests have increased by nearly 20 percent, and property crimes have decreased by 10 percent in the Talamanca canton, said Leandro Chaverri Cordero, head of the Policía de Fronteras there, in a letter.

The security ministry also has increased the number of police in the region, including in the Puerto Viejo area, he added.

“We are aware that we still need to overcome much to prevent these situations from happening,” Chaverri said. “However, joint work between neighbors, police and other institutions is harmonized, and has already started to bear its first fruit. Our goal is to decrease year after year complaints for crimes against property, and with this offer to both national and foreign tourists the best possible service in terms of safety.”

This will be done through a coordinated effort between the Judicial Investigating Organization, traffic police, immigration police, the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the Ministerio de Salud and the municipality, he said.

To help, the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo signed an agreement Jan. 24 to renew its partnership with the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública for five more years. They will invest 350 million colons in the tourism police over that period. With this money, the number of police is expected to rise, and they will be dispersed across the country.

The act is an effort to to strengthen and promote Costa Rica as a safe tourist destination, tourism spokespersons said.

“This strategic alliance has been of vital importance for the country since as part of these agreements the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública has increased the amount of tourist police to ensure that they are distributed in the most important tourist areas of the nation, ensuring as well a safe environment specialized for domestic and foreign tourists,” said Allen Flores, tourism minister.

The cooperation between the two entities was first formed in 2006 and resulted in the creation of the tourism police Jan. 5, 2007. To date the institute has provided 100 bicycles, 140 radio transmitters, 71 motorcycles, five patrol cars, two buses and 30 training courses, workers there reported.

Through this agreement, the police will be able to place surveillance cameras at strategic points in the coastal zone, said Chaverri.

In regards to recent crimes in the Caribbean, Chaverri notes that all the cases were handled at the time. So far there have been no results, but they are all still open for investigation by the judicial agents in Bribri, he said.

He continued by saying members of the force do everything they can to accommodate victims. “Currently members of the security community and commercial committees collaborate with people when they have been victims of any offense, giving them support and helping in many cases with language translation, in order to know the details of what happened,” Chaverri said.

“Also they help them with transportation to Bribri, so that they can report what happened. In special cases, when little time is given to apprehend individuals involved in these events, commercial venders have given food and lodging to victims to remain some days in the area and finish the judicial process,” he continued. Bribri is the canton’s administrative center, although most expats are along the coast.

This is not the first time the police officials have said Costa Rica has less crime than in the past. At the end-of-the-year conference Dec. 17, security minister Mario Zamora Cordero referred to 2012 as the year of crime reduction. Zamora also commented that the problems of Limón are more of a social issue than a security issue. Until Limón gets more education opportunities and more work opportunities, crime will be absolutely unconquerable, he said. Talamanca is a canton in the province of Limón

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