San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tamarindo Police Out on the Street

TAMARINDO – Officials from the northwestern Costa Rican Santa Cruz Municipality are working with leaders here to find a permanent home for the police.

Members of the Tamarindo Improvement Association, a local community organization, are hoping to receive financial assistance from the Santa CruzMunicipality to build a new police station near the Pasa Tiempo Hotel.

Officials from both towns met on Saturday to discuss funding for the new station. The Santa CruzMunicipality controls local tax dollars spent here but has never funded the police station.

The municipality hasn’t made a final decision as to whether the town will receive funding for the new station, but Tamarindo officials were optimistic after the meeting.

“I think we have a good chance,” said Federico Amador, president of the Tamarindo Improvements Association. He said the positive mood of the meeting indicates that the new Santa Cruz government is “finally starting to realize that Tamarindo is important.”

If the new station receives municipal funding, it would be the first use of local tax dollars for the police force in Tamarindo. The money would be allotted in the 2010 Santa Cruz municipal budget. The station would be built on a 1,800 square meter lot a developer contributed to the community in 2007.

The station is currently located in the privately owned Cabinas Maleko at the edge of town.

Private donations are the lone resource for this the station.

Rent for this office is $1,500 per month, but a drop in donations and failure to pay rent has February and March has led to concerns over eviction.

Amador said it is possible that the station might have to move temporarily to the nearby town of Villareal if the failure to pay continues.

But local officers think such a move would harm the community.

“Villareal is too far away,” said Diego Chavarría, a Tamarindo police officer. Chavarría said Villareal’s distance from the center of Tamarindo is problematic because the officers need to be able to block the exit from the town in the case of a crime.

“We can block the street easily from Cabinas Maleko,” he said. “We are right on the border of the town here.”

The force attempted to operate from Villareal for two months in 2007, but a spike in crime in Tamarindo caused them to return.

Amador said the association will consider proximity while planning the new location.

“We understand the concern,” he said. “We will try to leave a booth for a guard near Cabinas Maleko.”

Amador said the association will work to reach a more precise agreement with the Santa CruzMunicipality over the course of the next two weeks.

–Mike McDonald


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