Communication could be the key to improving security

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

A group of foreign and Mexican residents gathered under the name Sanmiguelenses Unidos (Sanmiguelenses United) recently asked local and state authorities to participate in a forum on how to improve security in the municipality. More meetings will be held in the future, and the organizers expect to have representatives from all social sectors. The director of Public Security, Arturo Yáñez Saldaña, Mayor Mauricio Trejo and the district attorney for zone D, René Urrutia, attended the forum.

The forum, according to Sheny Kameko and Melanie Lansing, representatives of the group, was held to improve communications between the San Miguel community, the Public Security Department and the District Attorney’s Office, as well as to work on ideas to educate the public in matters of state and local laws related to security and home safety. The group will try to gather representatives from all neighborhoods and social sectors in order to set up continuing security programs. Kameko and Lansing said they will ask authorities to open future meetings to the media.

The first panelist was Mayor Trejo, who said that if there is no communication it will be impossible to follow a common direction in security matters. He made it clear that to measure the improvement in security it is important “to acknowledge where we were in the past,” before his administration took office. He compared the city to a sick body, which had cases of kidnapping (six high-profile), one attack with Molotov cocktails at a gas station, some people burned in a car, burglary of residences, as well as a drug cartel in the city. That body, he said, “is being healed.” He remarked that he is very concerned about matters of security in the city and is trying to the best of his ability to solve the crimes that have been reported in the city.

Trejo assured the audience that his administration has good communication with the different levels of government and they are working together to guarantee the safety of residents. He announced that the girl who (in a case of domestic violence) murdered Joyous Heart has been condemned to 22 years in prison and that one of those responsible for kidnapping and murdering Nancy Valenzuela (at the end of February) has been caught and is under investigation. Trejo told the attendees that he is not responsible for releasing the criminals involved in the burglary that occurred in el Paraíso on October 20 on bail, but rather that was a decision of the Ministerio Público (MP), which acted according to the law.

District Attorney René Urrutia said that good communication between the MP and residents is very important to improve security and instill tranquility, peace and harmony. He explained that the Public Security Department has the duty of preventing crime as well as arresting criminals, whereas the MP (a state office) is in charge of investigations. Urrutia also explained that not all criminals are incarcerated during the investigation process because of the new criminal justice system, which now presumes innocence rather than guilt, but in certain cases suspected criminals are detained. Urrutia said that although the MP can incarcerate them, it is a supervisory judge who makes that decision. The district attorney remarked that although the criminals are released on bail, that does not mean that they do not have to pay for what they did, and that the law must be respected.

Gabriel Arturo Yáñez, director of the Public Security Department, said that in the months to come there will be bilingual personnel in the 066 (emergency number) department, who will also come to crime scenes and help as interpreters. In addition, Yáñez had some suggestions for those who call 066, such as keeping calm, allowing the operator to formulate the questions and being ready to answer basic questions such as where?, how? and who? Stay on the line as long as possible, and do not touch or move anything at the crime scene.

Jane McGinnis, a representative of the expat community, expressed that expats are ready to work with the authorities and proposed shifts of 12 hours for police officers instead of the 24-hour shifts they now work. She also said that police officers need better training and should patrol on foot rather than in vehicles.

The forum was held on November 6 at El Sindicato. There were approximately 130 attendees.

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