Around five hundred elite police officers are patrolling Ecuador’s major cities in a new crime-fighting measure, following the government’s decision in November to have military personnel participate in operations against urban crime, an official spokesperson announced on 23 May.
Out of the total number of personnel, around 160 began operations Monday (23 May) in Quito, Interior Minister José Serrano said, indicating that another 340 officers have been active in the cities of Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta (in southern Ecuador), and Esmeraldas (in northeastern Ecuador) since last week.
“We’re going to engage in a frontal and crushing fight against crime. We’re not going to stint on any resources, in order that, definitively, the rates of violence and insecurity start to fall significantly,” Serrano told reporters.
The minister announced investments in the police of between 150 and 200 million dollars, under such headings as infrastructure, radios, cellular telephones, weapons, and vehicles, among others, although he did not specify the period of time over which this budget will be spent.
The five hundred uniformed personnel belong to the Special Operations Group (GOE), the Intervention and Rescue Group (GIR), and the Special Mobile Anti-Narcotics Group (GEMA), Serrano indicated.
This measure is in addition to the one adopted by the government in November, when it determined that the Armed Forces, together with the police and for an indefinite period, would monitor the carrying of weapons and participate in intelligence actions targeting organized crime in the major urban centers.
The growing feeling of insecurity in the country motivated President Rafael Correa to call a referendum – held on 7 May – on reforms to the justice system, which according to the president is “riddled with corruption and inefficiency.”
On another topic, the Interior Minister defended the decision to subject around four thousand members of the Judicial Police to polygraph tests. “It’s a measure to build citizens’ trust, and we’re going to handle it as a strictly evaluative indication,” he said.