The homicide rate in Cali has lowered by 27%, a report by the government indicates according to local media on Tuesday.
Cali’s Government Secretary Carlos Molina Jose Holguin stated in a press conference on Monday morning that the first half of 2014 has witnessed a reduction in the number of homicides by at least 269 cases compared to the same period last year. This corresponds to a decrease of 27% from last year’s figures.
“Thanks to a collaboration of efforts, eight months ago we started to counteract the rates of homicide and other crime,” Holguin Molina said.
“The combination of various strategies, and above all the inter-institutional promise of various national and local entities, has permitted the work we’ve done this year to create the biggest reduction in homicides in the last 6 years.”
FACT SHEET: Cali crime statistics
While crime rates have dropped sharply, Cali was ranked in 2013 as the most dangerous city in Colombia for the second consecutive year, according to Colombia’s Noticias Uno news-site.
Last year, one of the most prominent homicides was that of local police chief Captain Edwin Marino Caballero, who was assassinated near his home after his involvement with the operation that brought down drug-trafficker and criminal organizer alias “El Anticristo.”
Increased security and city improvements figure big in reduction of citywide crime
Several measures taken in the city since last year, such as specialized group intervention against high-value targets determined by the Police, increased patrolling by military police in critical sections of the city, and tackling several of the most harmful criminal gangs in the city, have undoubtedly affected the sharp decline in violent crime, Holguin Molina explained according to Bogota’s Santa Fe Radio.
The efforts to strengthen security in the city has been made partly due to new agreements between the national and local government since 2013 that reinforced both military and police forces and sent over 280 soldiers to Cali, Santa Fe reported.
In 2013, Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon announced new military patrols in Cali in hopes of breaking up the massive systems of organized crime that have plagued the city.
More boots on the ground
The recent decisions to militarize Cali shows a much different approach to crime than in 2009, when Cali was refused a proposal to form a hybrid security force consisting of police and military personnel even after crime went up 23% compared to the same period in 2008.
Cali has also invested around 5 million in 132 additional patrol areas, with a total plan of 338. “With the extension of the quadrants, we have also strengthened the police fleet,” Holguin Molina said. “The Police force numbers 650 vehicles, which is an increase of 40 vehicles.”
Changes to improve public spaces, such as increasing lighting in parks and green areas, also has been beneficial in thwarting crime activity. “So far we have worked on 447 parks and green areas, investing over [7,011,00 million] in improving the security of these areas,” Holguin Molina said.
The government also points to improving social conditions and public spaces with the reduction of crime overall. Holguin Molina highlighted the work done with a specific city-wide youth inclusion and opportunity program for children in disadvantaged communities, called Collective. The program has worked with over 700 children in various target communities throughout the city, Santa Fe Radio reported.
Though authorities are cracking down on gang violence, Cali still runs into trouble with gangs luring youngsters into criminal organizations under the disguise of recruits for a career in professional soccer.
Other crime also sees drop
The government has also reported a significant reduction in other types of crime compared to the same period last year. Auto thefts were down 8%, as well as a 4% drop in motorcycle thefts. A 10% drop in overall theft was also recorded; house break-ins and theft were down 27% within this category, while theft to trade was decreased by 24%, according to the press release on Monday.
- Tasa de homicidios en Cali se redujo un 27% (Santa Fe Radio)
- Cali, la cuidad mas peligrosa de Colombia por segunda vez consecutiva (Noticias Uno)
- Secretario de Gobierno destaca reducción de delito en el primer semestre del año (Cali government website)