Cuenca police chief José Valdivieso credits a multi-year drop in crime to the addition of more police officers, community training and the installation of security cameras and emergency buttons in schools, homes and businesses.
Overall, according to Valdivieso, crime is down 13.5% from 2013 and more than 30% from 2011 levels. “We are making very good progress and expect the trend to continue,” he said Thursday during a presentation on the Salesian University (UPS) campus.
Valdivieso said that he considers work with the community to be the largest contributor to the reduction of crime. “We are working with neighborhood groups to improve crime prevention and reporting and we are seeing results,” he said. He added that police have installed more than 400 emergency call buttons in 2013, giving businesses, schools and homeowners instant access to police.
“The emergency buttons and security cameras are a big factor in making arrests,” Valdivieso said. “The sooner we are on the scene of the crime, the better the result.”
Ecuador Interior Minister José Serrano, also spoke at the UPS program and said that 700 arrests in Cuenca of suspected thieves in 2013 is one of the reasons that robberies have dropped by almost 14%. “Home robbery remains the number one crime in the city and dismantling criminal gangs is a central element in reducing the rate,” he said.
Serrano, a Cuenca native who heads all law enforcement in Ecuador, added that particular emphasis has been placed on stopping small drug sales, noting that special operations are underway in Cuenca and Guayaquil. “Drug sales and robbery go together,” he said. “Drug buyers are often desperate and need money to continue their habit. This is why we focus first on arresting the dealers and second on rehabilitating abusers.”