Medellin’s new security plan aims to halt killings and drug wars between gangs, and 200 members of the Judicial Police will descend upon the city to carry out research and control.
In most cities of the world, 30 per cent of violent crime is attributed to gangs. In Medellin, that figure is 70 per cent, and generates levels of violence well outside of the norm.
The concentration of paramilitary leaders in Itagui (arriving from Santander, the coast and el Valle) has created a subculture of organized crime in Medellin, among other reasons. This backdrop has led to the deaths of 1,300 people in the first eight months of this year. This figure is higher than that for all of 2008, which recorded 1,040 homicides. Alonso Salazar, the city’s mayor, has implemented a new plan to restore security and awareness to the city.
The strategy, which will cost a total of 121 billion pesos (approx. US$61 million) is a comprehensive one with three main branches: social, operative, and laboral.
This hybrid system seeks to prevent killings, and to minimize in any way possible the war between criminal groups that have been seduced by narcotrafficking, as well as diminishing vice, theft, and other criminal conduct.
According to Mayor Salazar, the city currently has 600 fewer police officers than it had in 2005, when paramilitary demobilization began. To mitigate this imbalance, he announced, General Oscar Naranjo, director of Colombia’s National Police, promised 200 members of the Judicial Police and 1,300 new troops for the Antioquia department.
To increase manpower, Salazar also suggested that a unit of regular soldiers become military police, in order to support urban security.
Salazar noted that the mayor of Medellin spends about 61 billion pesos (approx. US$30 million) on security, what with the purchase of motorcycles and police vehicles, and the construction of CAI and fuel supplies, among others.
However, he maintained that the issue of insecurity in cities such as Medellin be assumed as a matter of state.
“As mayor and local chief of police I am in charge of public space, among other things, but we also need a high-intelligence criminal policy, as well as [improved] management of the police and of justice,” he said.
Salazar explained that the operational component of the strategy will include a social program aimed at young people from vulnerable areas with a plan to increase their educational opportunities.
Twelve days ago, the mayor opened an office to run programs such as city guides, a youth force, youth clubs, and even one aimed at parents to promote the social works and reinforce neighborhood security.
“Mobilizing citizens is the main strategy of this security plan,” Salazar said.