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Public drunkenness, public fornication are top crimes for neighborhood surveillance system

What are the most common crimes and misdemeanors in Cuenca? According to the new video surveillance system monitored by Cuenca’s Citizen Security Council (CSC), they are public drunkenness, public love-making and graffiti.

The Cuenca ECU 911 call center.

The CSC which began operation in July with 181 cameras in parks and residential neighborhoods, has only spotted a handful of violent crimes and property break-ins in the early going. “Mostly, we see a lot of drunks and immoral acts and are surprised we have not caught more criminals but we believe that will change,” says Fernando Carpio, CSC director. “Our neighborhoods are experiencing more home robberies and our system is designed to stop that.”

The CSC, which shares cameras with Cuenca’s ECU-911 system through a “mirror arrangement”, has asked that it be allowed access to more of ECU-911’s 380 cameras and the request is being considered by the interior ministry. “We want to increase our role since our interest is protecting our own families and our neighborhoods,” Carpio says.

CSC members monitor the organization’s cameras 24 hours a day along with members of the city’s Citizens’ Guard.

Alexandra Altamirano, director of ECU-911, says she is pleased to share video monitoring duties with CSC but says she must follow interior ministry guidelines. “There are security rules that must be adhered to to assure that those doing the monitoring have been granted clearance by the government,” he says. “Obviously, we don’t want criminals watching the monitors and telling their friends when they can commit crimes.”

Another issue ECU-911 must consider in granting broadened surveillance access to CSC are new law enforcement rules issued September 2 by the interior ministry. As part of President Lenin Moreno’s “Crime Attack Ecuador” campaign, police have been ordered to concentrate on the most serious crimes, including violent assault, kidnappings and property break-ins.

The new policies affect the work of CSC, says Carpio. “Police are no longer being dispatched for drunkenness, immoral acts and graffiti and we understand the importance of focusing on serious crime,” he says. “We are disappointed, of course, and we will continue to report all crimes.”