Actions being taken to increase public safety
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
Although San Miguel de Allende is still one of the safest cities in Mexico, from October 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013 several felonies, such as sexual assaults, vandalism, muggings, theft of vehicles or their contents, burglaries and even murders, have been reported to Public Security. A few days ago, the local government launched the second stage of a new security program, and 26 leased patrol cars were added to the Police Department fleet. The director of security said that by March the surveillance cameras could be operational. Also this year the Traffic, Public Security and Civil Protection departments will be merged as a secretariat. Soldiers will be installed in the barracks in San Miguel in April.
The plan for security
On February 9, the city council approved the government’s plan for the next three years, which includes focusing on education, sustainable and social development and security. City councilor José Luis Zavala Rosiles, secretary of the Commission of Security, commented that “security is the core idea in this plan in order to prevent antisocial attitudes and contribute to a peaceful and harmonious social development.” According to Zavala, the concrete actions in this plan are, first, having a professional security force and instituting regulations to prevent police corruption and mechanisms for identifying bad behavior by police, who must respect the principles of honesty, respect, objectivity and legality stated in the Mexican Constitution. This plan also calls for interaction between the citizens and members of the security department through meetings in rural communities and urban neighborhoods to promote a culture of denouncing crimes and solidarity. This program seeks also to instill and strengthen civil, moral and social values among children, adults and young persons and launch programs of security in public and private schools to guarantee the safety of the students. The most interesting part of this plan is a proposal for the implementation of a servicio policial de carrera (professional police career track) that could be possible through regulations being considered by the city council.
The current administration has launched several actions with the goal of decreasing the crime indexes in the municipality. In December 2012 the local government announced the investment of 1,300,000 pesos for the construction of a base of operations for members of the Mexican army in the city, which would be useful in cases of emergency. The same month, Álvar Cabeza de Vaca, Secretary of Public Security, visited the municipality to sign the agreement of the Operative Commission of Prevention, by which local and state authorities plan to start a training program for crime prevention and also develop strategies to eradicate underlying problems that lead to antisocial behaviors. Finally, extra patrol cars were leased.
Second stage of security
According to Mayor Mauricio Trejo, when he took office the number of felonies were increasing and now have leveled off, though they have not decreased. Trejo commented that in four months he will report the new crime statistics and that the numbers will be lower than the current ones.
“When I was campaigning, voters’ first concern was public safety. The objective was to stop the crime indexes, which were growing and seemed unstoppable,” said Trejo. He commented that when he began his administration, the Security Department had 42 vehicles and only six were in usable condition, and the budget for maintaining the vehicles was 15 million pesos a year. Now, 20 new patrol cars have been added to the Department of Security and six to the Traffic Department. These patrols are leased for 275,000 pesos per month, but “in three years, for one peso per vehicle, the company will hand me over new patrol cars, and that is a blessing,” remarked Trejo.
Surveillance cameras installed in March
Many believe there are insufficient police to serve the municipality and that and some who should not be on the force still remain. Gabriel Arturo Yáñez, director of the Public Security Department, commented that “the human factor is the most important element of any strategy that we want to launch” and for that reason there will be a department of analysis to collect information to better plan how to distribute personnel according to their profiles and the needs of the population.
The director said the organization for merging of the Traffic, Public Security and Civil Protection departments is advanced and even though there are no regulations yet in place he hopes to start operating as a secretariat by the end of this year. The members from the departments of Public Security and Transit would take care of protecting the citizens and their belongings and the Civil Protection Department would be in charge of preventing risks caused by natural disasters.
According to Arturo Yáñez, the security cameras that were supposed to have been installed sooner should be working in March. “The purchase has been finalized and now technical installations are being done (placing of posts and electricity sources). We are performing the necessary actions to launch their operation in March,” said Yáñez. The director said that some cameras will be located on private property and for that reason the operation has been delayed. He said the plan is to put up 16 cameras, but that number could be doubled. The cameras will be in different areas of the city, including the accesses, the historic center and other locations.