San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Public Security

San José to get nearly 100 new security cameras

The Municipality of San José last weekend began installing 95 new security cameras at parks and other public areas in the capital with the aim at keeping surveillance around the clock.

Mayor Johnny Araya said the municipality wants citizens to feel safer in all of the city’s public spaces.

“We want people who visit our parks to feel safe and we know surveillance cameras help a lot to improve safety in public spaces,” Araya said Friday during a public event at the Zapote Park, east of the capital, where he presented the investment.

Araya said the municipality is investing approximately ₡360 million ($647,000) in improving the city’s video surveillance system, which currently has 120 cameras mainly in downtown San José.

The new cameras have the ability to record during the day and night, and can record images through fog and smoke.

The surveillance system is part of a public security plan that includes installing 300 cameras over the next four years in the central region of the capital.

Araya’s goal is to have some 500 cameras throughout the canton by the end of his term in 2020.

Municipal Police and National Police officers are responsible for operating the monitoring system and issuing alerts to officers patrolling the canton.

Besides improvements in the surveillance system, Araya said the municipality is increasing the number of Municipal Police officers, as he promised during his campaign.

“We hired new Municipal Police officers during our first day in office,” he said, adding that the increased number of officers on the streets in the past three months also allowed authorities to tighten control over street vendors.

Troubled canton

The capital’s mayor said he’s received a large number of complaints in recent weeks from citizens worried about increased crime and insecurity in parks and other public spaces.

According to data from the Public Security Ministry, San José is the province with the highest crime figures in the country. More than half of crimes in the capital occur in the Central canton, the ministry reported.

Araya said the canton’s high crime rates are normal as San José is the country’s largest city with nearly one million people travelling across the city daily.

Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata will meet Wednesday with mayors from various municipalities to discuss a plan to improve surveillance and to hear about the cities’ main security problems.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Ana P. Castro

A while ago, Teletica canal 7 made an investigation on a criminal group operating around the Mercado Central. This criminals were captured on CAMERA , steeling from our young people, mostly young adults and our older ones, one victim, a very old man, was ripped off of his belongings three times by three different criminals (from the same group ). One of the reporters, even bought drugs from them to prove their activities, also caught on cameras.
Police was called. The whole group was captured and back on the streets two hours later. A reason for their freedom was giving and said, anyone who brakes the law, has to be caught by a police officer at the moment of the wrongdoing, a video of a situation like this IS NOT ENOUGH evidence to condemn someone.
My question is, why all this clowning around about cameras for public security if, when the moment comes to do justice, there is always a good excuse to let the criminals go.
Lets spend the country’s money wisely. $647000.00 on cameras, to tell us later on, that this is not enough proof to put some wrongdoer in jail ? Simply not acceptable. As a citizen, I want my taxes to be spent wisely. Or should I worry about expenses like this to cover up other activities or other expenses? Our politicians have forgotten that they work for us, the citizens.

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Ken Morris

For a country that can’t resist patting itself on the back for its affirmation of human rights, it’s disconcerting to see how readily it embraces security cameras.

As far as fighting crime goes, these can be OK as long as the defense has access to the full footage, but unfortunately it often doesn’t. A 5-second video clip can make a person look guilty when a 10-second clip can exonerate them. Will the defense have the full 10 seconds or only the 5 seconds the prosecution wants to share?

There is also the issue of the invasion of privacy. This is a country in which it is illegal for a person to look at text messages on their cheating spouse’s cell phone, since that is an invasion of privacy, yet the state can videotape that same cheating spouse on a park bench with a lover? And how does anyone know that state employees won’t abuse their access to the videos? They certainly abuse their access to written records.

Security cameras probably have a legitimate role to play in public security, but they are a real slippery slope to slide down and I don’t get the impression that the authorities or the public realize what a dangerous slide this can be.

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