According to Ecuador’s interior ministry, security cameras have played a major role in Ecuador’s dramatic drop in crime during the last decade.
More than 4,100 cameras have been installed since 2009, most of them since the country’s 911 ECU program began operations in 2012. According to the ministry, since 2009, Ecuador’s murder and violent crime rates have been cut in half. In the latest international crime statistics, Ecuador has the second lowest murder rate in Latin America and the third lowest in the western hemisphere.
Many Ecuadorian cities, including Cuenca and Quito, have murder rates substantially lower than those of U.S. cities with the same population.
The camera images are monitored 24 hours a day at 28 911 ECU monitoring stations throughout Ecuador. “Video surveillance has become a fundamental tool for crime prevention and security and control in public spaces,” according to a spokesman for the interior ministry. He adds that the video is also monitored to observe traffic conditions and for meteorological events as well as for crime. “We can monitor flooding, such as the recent events in Quito, and can identify public dangers in the case of earthquakes.”
It’s not just murder and violent crime that have been reduced as a result of the cameras. “In Cuenca, there are fewer robberies, petty crime, gang fights and public nuisances because of it,” says Jorge Quinde of the Citizen Security System, which operates the 911 ECU centers. “If we see crimes being committed, police can respond quickly and make arrests so we are getting more bad guys off the streets.”
Quinde adds that the video surveillance tape also allows judges to put more criminals in jail. “Today, we have more evidence for convictions than we did before.”
According to the interior ministry, more cameras are being installed every day. “The program is ongoing with the current focus on smaller communities,” says the ministry.