The fight against crime
The toughest problem facing the new FMLN government is getting El Salvador's violent crime problem under control. The previous ARENA administrations had no luck at all. Out friends at Voices on the Border describe the first steps announced by Mauricio Funes to combat cime:
On Thursday of last week, President Funes announced his plans to reinforce the national police force (PNC) and invest around $11.5 million in improving their capabilities and conditions. He spoke at a press conference following the induction of Carlos Antonio Ascencio Girón as the new General Director of the PNC and Mauricio Landaverde as the Assistant Director.
The president also announced that beginning in July, all sergeants, corporals, and agents would receive an extra $2 per work day towards food costs. The cost of these bonuses will total $36,064 per day for the18,032 members of the police force included in the plan.
The PNC will also add 1,300 new agents who will provide reinforcements in 25 of the most violent municipalities in the country. Funes also plans to form municipal commissions that will work in coordination with the police and the mayor’s office to prevent violence. In rural areas, groups will work will the armed forces (FAES). The archbishop of El Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, recently voiced his support for the collaboration of the FAES and the PNC.
In the first 13 days of June, an average of 14 people were killed per day, over 10 times more than in the United States. Much of this violence is connected with gangs and affects the younger population. In the past, there have been reports of police corruption and collaboration with gangs and drug trafficking.
President Funes also made it clear that his administration would not tolerate corruption within the PNC. He stated that “[t]hose that betray the institution and their fellow officers by involving themselves in crime will not have a place in the police family…they will be removed from the institution and will be held responsible for their actions.”
Hardly any Salvadoreans understand this. They dream about safe, orderly cities such as New York, and fail to realize that NYC has twice as many cops per inhabitant as our lawless nation.
Whereas a measly 7% cop headcount increase will prove insufficient and ineffective, and is therefore an utterly futile gesture, I applaud Funes for having more common sense in this regard than Calderón, Flores and Saca put together.
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I say: Funes, now that you have proven you have a functioning brain, stop dickering about and give us more cops so we reach the bare minimum of 35,000 policemen this country needs.
Even if we begged for more police on the streets, how many are actually applying fot the job. With the recent ammount of soldiers who have come back from Iraq, I would imagine they are the largest percentage of applicants for police work.
At least this looks like the first step in the right direction.