Costa Rica’s national police, Fuerza Pública, has turned to technology to make the streets safer, as it recently implemented a global positioning system (GPS) to coordinate officers’ responses, according to the ministro de Seguridad Publica, Mario Zamora.
The system, which was first installed in 20 patrol cars in late April, allows officers to see exactly how far they are away from a potential crime scene.
“If a citizen calls the 911 system to report an emergency, [the Fuerza Publica Operations Centre] will be able to identify the unit closest to the incident so we can provide the quickest response,” Zamora said.
The vehicles equipped with the system were assigned to the areas with the highest rate of car thefts, specifically the provinces of San José, Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago in the country’s central region, according to Pablo Bertozzi, the Fuerza Publica’s deputy director general.
If the system continues to be successful, it will be installed in all 857 Fuerza Publica vehicles nationwide.
From January 2011 to May 2012, 4,580 vehicles were stolen in Costa Rica, 1,763 of them in San José, according to the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) Department of Statistics.
The department also noted the tracking system’s effectiveness, as the number of cars stolen monthly dropped from an average of 377 in 2011 to 11 this year. The drop is attributed to a stronger police presence in areas known for car thefts and quicker responses by police officers, Zamora said.
“This type of initiative gives us more power since we’re able to determine the closest patrol to respond to an incident such as car theft,” he said.
So far this year, 72 attempted robberies have been prevented by the GPS system, which has improved response times by about 30%, according to Bertozzi.
One of the system’s recent success stories involved the recovery of a vehicle that was reported stolen on June 1 in Palmares de Alajuela, 40 kilometers west of the capital city of San José.
As soon as the officials received a call about the theft, a signal was sent to the tracking system and an Aerial Surveillance Unit’s helicopter. Less than 15 minutes later, the car was recovered and two suspects were taken into custody, according to the Ministry of Public Safety.
The devices were installed through an agreement between the Ministry of Public Safety and Detektor, a private company that donated 40 GPS units and 80 systems that identify the location of police cars. All systems are maintained by the company at no cost to the department, Bertozzi said.
Luis Diego Trejos, Detektor’s general manager, said this initiative came to fruition because his company and the government thought better technology could contribute to the country’s growth and safety.
“We are extremely proud to be able to offer our technological devices and our more than 20 years of multinational experience to the Ministry of Public Safety to help in the fight against organized crime,” Trejos said.
The agreement is part of the National Police’s effort to use new technology to modernize public administration, particularly in areas that are vital to the country, such as public safety, Zamora said.
“Public safety is an issue that involves the government, communities and businesses,” Zamora said. “In this case, this company helps us respond more quickly to car thefts and possibly catch the criminals red-handed.”
Twenty-five National Police officers have been trained to use the system, which also provides crime data to the Ministry of Public Safety, enabling officials to track how many patrol cars were called to crime scenes in a particular area over a period of time, Zamora said.
Article by InfosurHoy