Many visitors looking to get away from it all are attracted to Costa Rica’s remote destinations. That same quality offering quiet and relaxation, however, can be a disadvantage when it comes to reporting a crime. But a new pilot program is trying to streamline this process by letting local National Police officers file criminal complaints so victims don’t have to travel out of their way.
Starting this June, police in Puerto Viejo, Cocles, Cahuita, Flamingo, Dominical, Nosara, Sámara, Playas del Coco and Tamarindo will start taking criminal complaints, according to Public Security Ministry spokesman José Vargas.
Between May 20 and 24, 75 police officers were trained at the National Police Academy to take victim statements and file complaints via email to the nearest Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) delegation. The job of investigating crimes will remain with the OIJ.
Generally speaking, police in Costa Rica are tasked with preventing crime and OIJ officers are in charge of investigating crimes committed. This means that while police might be the first on the scene if a smartphone is stolen, for example, the victim still has to file a compliant with OIJ in order to file charges.
Under the current system, victims in far-flung places like the Pacific beach town of Nosara would need to drive nearly 60 kilometers to Nicoya to report a crime. Some, especially foreign tourists, don’t know that they need to file a separate complaint with OIJ beyond their initial encounter with police. Others decide it’s too much hassle.
Vargas said other communities could be incorporated if the project goes well.