Security a priority in 2014
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
One year after it was officially announced, the state security program Escudo (Defense) will begin operations. The program has the aim not only of safeguarding the borders of the state by installing surveillance cameras, but also of providing better and faster responses to calls received at emergency numbers. Escudo will also reinforce the municipal program of surveillance cameras. In addition, this year, according to local authorities “security is a priority,” and curtailing residential burglaries is the highest priority.
Escudo, said the Guanajuato secretary of Public Security, Álvar Cabeza de Vaca Appendini, is a tool to improve conditions for residents of and visitors to the state. The program has two main goals. The first is to serve those who call the 066 emergency system or the 089 number for anonymous denouncements more efficiently. The second objective is to achieve a unique coordination between the three levels of government in matters of public security as well as coordination with state and federal authorities for the pursuit of justice.
For the program, the state
government is investing more than 2.7 billion pesos over the next four years. Part of the equipment already installed in the 46 municipalities of the state includes 704 urban surveillance cameras in 176 locations, 1,300 cameras for local urban surveillance in 650 locations, 368 cameras with technology to locate stolen vehicles and 184 fixed cameras.
In San Miguel, arches have been installed over some roadways: on the road to Celaya next to the power station, on the road to Querétaro next to the City Hall building and on the road to Dolores. These arches are outfitted with technology and cameras that will generate a database of all vehicles that enter and leave the city. The database will allow security authorities to act more quickly to apprehend stolen vehicles or identify and detain those who could be involved in a crime within the state of Guanajuato.
Some of the surveillance cameras in the city are visible on poles about 20 meters high at the corners of Salida a Querétaro and Calvario, Mesones and Colegio and on calle Canal in front of Las Monjas church. The citizens’ outreach buttons (emergency call buttons), the surveillance cameras and the arches located at the main accesses to the city, according to the director of Public Security, will be connected to a state and local system of control that is ready to start operating.
Although it has not been confirmed whether the program Escudo will start operating at the same time as the municipal project of surveillance cameras, the idea has been delayed two years. The project for placing cameras in the city was approved by the federal government in 2012, and through the program SUBSEMUM (Subsidy for Security in the Municipalities) four million pesos were allotted for it. According to the then director of Public Security, Carlos Godínez, that money would be enough to buy 15 professional surveillance cameras, and with municipal and state financial resources they would try to buy 15 more cameras. Godínez said at that time that a monitoring center would be designed for the project and the cameras would be recording 24/7 and would send the information to a local monitoring center. There would be fixed cameras placed in the historic center and mobile ones that could be placed in neighborhoods where crime is most prevalent.
Government holds Week of Security
The local government continues working on its security strategy and held a Week of Security, offering talks and lectures on how to avoid being a victim of crime. During the week of activities, local authorities along with the Guanajuato Secretariat of Public Security signed an agreement of co-participation with the Association of Hotels and Lodging Establishments; the agreement has the aim of working together to create strategies for security and protection of visitors to the city. Members of the Association of Wedding Planners, a real estate association, nonprofit organizations and students also attended the meetings. The government will try to sign agreements in the future with these organizations with the goal of heightening public safety.
Mayor Mauricio Trejo told Atención that this year the topic of security is a priority in the city. He noted that the number of reported kidnappings has dropped to zero and emphasized that the next felony the government will work to decrease is residential burglary. “We will not achieve that with more police officers,” he said, “but rather with the residents’ participation.” Trejo made it clear that this year, more than ever, he will ask for help from the expat community.
Gabriel Arturo Yáñez Saldaña, director of the Public Security Department, stated that in San Miguel de Allende there are sufficient police officers to provide security and remarked that 98 percent of the officers have taken tests of confidence and control, and those who have not passed them have been dismissed from the force.
Dismissed officers and organized crime
In an interview with Atención the Deputy-Secretary of Public Security of Guanajuato, Martín Octavio Lucio, made it clear that if the police officers do not pass the exams of confidence and control it is not necessarily because they are linked to organized crime. He commented that it could be due to “problems of alcoholism, drug use or because they have been involved in corruption, which they themselves confessed.” He said in addition that there are other reasons why police officers do not pass the exams, but in those cases the Secretariat of Public Security only issues recommendations to the local security forces. Those circumstances can range from obesity to illness, but the officers can keep working.
The deputy-secretary noted that when a police officer is dismissed from the force because he did not pass the exams, his information is uploaded to a database called CUIPP, part of the national database Plataforma México. That program holds personal information on the former police officer as well as the reasons why he was dismissed, and all the police forces in the country have access to that information.
Lucio also commented that when a police officer is dismissed he becomes a citizen like any other with rights and duties, but if the former officer makes use of his training to commit a crime, then the judicial authorities must apply the law in a different way. Lucio concluded by saying that the Secretariat of Public Security will work with the local government to create a strategy to decrease the number of residential burglaries.
Part of the technology to be used for the Escudo program:
2,556 surveillance cameras with different technologies
1 state system for data transmission
1 network system of 320 kilometers of optical fiber
1 system of administration, visualization, and video monitoring
1 system of radio communication with coverage in the 46 municipalities
32 repeater sites
1,000 hand-held radios
20,000 emergency panic buttons
Special facilities and equipment for the C-4 (Center of Communication, Control and Command) state monitoring center
23 adaptations to local emergency centers