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Police out in force at beaches, festivals for tourist season

On Monday morning, the National Police announced plans for a new countrywide law enforcement operation this dry season and a bulked-up community police presence. 

National Police Director Juan José Andrade said the number of officers to be assigned across the country during the high season for tourism was still in flux, but at least 500 cops would be present for festivities in Palmares, starting with the Tope on Jan. 15. The Palmares festival draws thousands each year to the coffee town in the northwestern Central Valley.

Andrade also said plainclothes and undercover officers would be out in force across the country’s beaches and other tourist destinations.

The police director added that “Operation Safe Summer” would formally begin on Saturday, Jan. 11, and last until the end of April, after Easter holiday vacations.

Along with increased police presence at tourist destinations this summer, Andrade announced a new community policing mechanism, the “Quadrant Plan,” as one of several new initiatives named in the Strategic Police Improvement System. 

Based on community policing techniques in Colombia and the United States – a country that helped launch Costa Rica’s community police in December 2012 – the Quadrant Plan aims to root police in a community to improve relations between law enforcement and the people they watch over.

“The Quadrant Plan aims to connect similar activities in smaller sectors with smaller police forces that can engage the community in such a way that the community feels like the police belong to them, and the police understand that they have responsibility for what happens in their neighborhood,” Andrade said.

The police director said more than 300 such quadrants would divide up police beats across Costa Rica’s seven provinces. Community members will have the telephone number of their respective quadrant captain and know where he or she lives. Andrade added that police would have a five-minute maximum response time for disturbances.

The National Police hope that the new community-centered policing strategy will reduce response times and crimes and improve public confidence in law enforcement.

The new community policing arrangement is set to being after the Feb. 2 national elections. 

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