Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said Friday that “Cuenca will receive its fair share” of the government’s $1.2 billion plan to beef up the nation’s law enforcement. “We will assign an additional 500 police to the city and provide them the training to work in an increasingly difficult law enforcement environment,” he said.
Carrillo and Vice President Alfredo Borrero chaired the meeting that was attended by Azuay Province mayors, city councilors, representatives of the justice system and National Assembly members. Carrillo said that Cuenca and Azuay Provinces have “fared very well in terms of crime” compared to other areas of the country and that the government hopes to maintain security in the region.
“We face a difficult and complicated situation nationally, particularly in the coastal provinces, due to the drug trade,” Carrillo said. “Our plan for Cuenca and Azuay Province is to make certain the crime occurring in other provinces does not happen here and the plans we are making are intended to ensure that this is the case.”
In addition to the additional police, Carrillo said that all police will undergo training to “equip them to handle the new realities of criminal activity.” Included in the training, he said, will be an explanation of the new law allowing police greater use of force to stop criminal activity. The law was passed last week by the National Assembly and awaits the President Guillermo Lasso signature. “The president supports this legislation and it will become law within a matter of weeks,” Carrillo said.
Under the government plans, Azuay province will receive $100 million for new police stations and facilities as well as hundreds of new security cameras to be installed in high-crime neighborhoods.
Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios welcomed the announcement of additional police, saying it would bring Cuenca in line with the international per capita standard for law enforcement personnel. He complained, however, that there has been no discussion of a change at the Turi prison to guarantee that only prisoners from the southern Andean region be incarcerated there.
“We remain very concerned that dangerous criminals related to drug transport activity on the coast are being housed at Turi,” Palacios said. “We continue to wait for the assurance that these people are not at Turi.”