San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Security minister wants police to respond to 911 calls in 15 minutes or less

Security Minister Mario Zamora is trying to reduce police response time to 911 calls to less than 15 minutes. To do so, he is adding the amount of National Police that patrol the country.

In his first five months as security minister, the National Police added 710 new members. According to Zamora’s “mobility plan,” a total of 1,100 officials and 250 police cars will be added to the National Police by February 2012. In an interview with The Tico Times in August, Zamora said that the country only has 276 patrol cars.

“Everyone wants response times to be faster, but it’s not easy with only one or two patrol cars in an area where several crimes occur,” he said. “For that reason, we want to acquire at least 400 more police vehicles. Instead of a 30- to 40-minute response time, it will be cut to less than 15 minutes. A response time of zero to 15 minutes is excellent, optimal.”

According to the Public Security Ministry, over $7.75 million has been invested this year in police patrol vehicles. The funds have been used to acquire 77 pick-ups, 55 motorcycles and 40 small trucks for prisoner transport.

The Chinese government announced recently a donation of $4.6 million and 200 police vehicles to Costa Rica. China is also constructing a new National Police training school in Guápiles, in the eastern province of Limón.

Zamora said that these contributions will result in quicker responses to emergencies and 911 calls.

“From five to 15 minutes, you can still assist the victim, and the criminal or criminals are still in an area where they can be located,” Zamora said. “After 15 minutes, the chance of detaining the criminal is almost entirely lost…To me, the response times are the most important indicator of our police forces’ shortcomings.”

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