QCOSTARICA – After a day of protests, President Rodrigo Chaves announced that he will stop the idea of changing the working hours to 6×4 scheme (six days on and four days off) of police officials of the Fuerza Publica (National Police)
The idea of the change in hours was to have more police presence, up to 9,500 people a day, on the streets in the fight against the underworld and organized crime, part of the “Costa Rica Segura” plan by the Chaves administration.
The proposed change set off a series of protests and blockades in different parts of the country.
“I am going to record a video for the entire Costa Rican police force, that it (the 6×4) is frozen; Before it’s even mentioned again, I’m going to call for an account of that and tell me the logic behind it, because let’s say that I didn’t understand it well, in the sense that there were agreements. So, let’s see, for now, calm down, that’s not going to come into operation,” Chaves said during a visit to the Sagrada Familia police station in San José.
Following the statement by Chaves on Friday, the Ministry of Security clarified that it has not yet implemented the change in role.
Daniela López, the representative of the ANEP-Fuerza Publica section and police officer, confirmed that dialogue tables will be held starting Monday.
According to the unions, there would be a suspension of protests this weekend, however, it is not ruled out that people, independently, will hold demonstrations.
During the visit to the Sagrada Familia police station, President Chaves committed to the development of 18 new police stations in the coming 18 months.
“I have just ordered the effective implementation of a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank so that in the next 18 months 18 new delegations will be built,” Chaves said.
The government’s plan and the President’s impromptu reversal of the decision in the work schedule opened a can of worms, revealing publicly the bad conditions in which police work.
Xiomara Rojas Sánchez, general secretary of the Independent Union of Costa Rican State Workers (Siteco), revealed that 125 of the 600 Fuerza Publica police stations have Health orders due to the unsanitary conditions in which the officers work.
Likewise, she demanded to discuss how to improve the quality of food and menus in police stations and also to define a mechanism to deliver new work boots, which will be on the dialogue table.
For his part, the assistant secretary, Marvin Vargas Castro, of the National Police Union (UNP), who has been a policeman for 13 years, also called for resolving the lack of patrol cars and motorcycles, as well as for better food.
According to Castro, some 40% of the 3,000 patrol vehicles of the Fuerza Publica are iin bad condition, of which at least 1,000 need urgent repair.
He describes as “urgent” the need for attention to the terrible state of the delegations and explained that many times the officers work beyond the days without being recognized overtime, which affects the demotivation of the staff.