As insecurity in the Buenos Aires province continues to be on the rise, 3000 retired police officers from both the provincial police and penitentiary system might just be dusting off their old boots in an effort to help fight crime.
Over the last few weeks no one has forgotten about the recent lynching epidemic that quickly turned the city into a violent phenomenon, including Pope Francis who said he “felt the kicking in his soul” over last month’s fatal lynching of David Moreira.
It seemed like most of the city was on edge for a while, anticipating the next big crime while insecurity lingered on everyone’s mind, including Governor Daniel Scioli who declared a State of Security Emergency in the Buenos Aires province earlier this month due to the rise in crime.
And what better way to fight crime than by bringing in more manpower? As it turns out, it might all be easier said than done since less that half of the expected 5000 retired police officers have failed to re-enlist, regardless of the mandatory notice and economic incentives of an $8,500 monthly salary per year announced by Scioli.
Recently, an 85-year-old man received a mandatory notice to put his uniform back on, said the Secretary General of the Union of Police of Buenos Aires (SIPOBA) Nicolás Masi, who also stressed that the new measure “seemed rushed” and had “too many unclear working conditions.”
The thought of re enlisting retired police officers at first seems quite sad, but the plan would work like this (at least according to Scioli): retired police officers would go back to work not exactly chasing after the bad guys, but safeguarding government buildings and doing the clerical work that the younger police officers were currently doing so that the younger guys could be deployed into the streets.
The idea would be to have retired police officers on duty for 12 months until the new fleet of police officers graduate from the police academy and can then be officially hired into the police force. At least 25,000 police cadets have applied to join the Buenos Aires police, and provincial authorities have announced they would be attempting to add an additional 10,000 new officers to the fleet by the end of the year making it the biggest recruitment campaign in the history of the Buenos Aires police force.
Recruiting more police officers is only the beginning of a much bigger plan that also includes 22 measures, some of which are said to have already been announced in the past and have proven not to be successful or just simply don’t work.
Some of these new laws include the new rules for motorcyclists, who now have to wear helmets and a reflective vest that clearly shows the registration number of their vehicle. This rule also applies to the second rider since most motorcycle crimes happen when at least two people are riding (commonly referred to as motochorros.)
Beyond the fancy reflective vest, motorcyclists also face more restricted riding zones and time restrictions in certain neighborhoods where they are not be allowed to travel with another rider.
New police equipment, the construction of more public prosecutors offices and the construction of new prisons that are said to hold up to 3,000 prisoners are also part of the packet.
The Bigger Picture
Preventing crime is not an easy task. Scioli recently announced that there is not one measure nor one single law that can fully solve the problem of insecurity.
In spite of how good putting more police officers in the streets may sound, some human rights groups are against the idea of re-enlisting retired police officers including Supreme Court Justice Raúl Zaffaroni, who said the anti-crime measure is only a temporary solution and called on the governor to implement a more definitive anti-crime policy.
He also said that the key to improving public safety lied on police forces themselves, suggesting that the police model should be rethought of and that any future reform on the Penal Code system would not happen overnight.
Scioli, Kirchnerism’s leading candidate in the 2015 presidential election, has made it clear that he wants a present state capable of enforcing harsher laws on criminals. However, some will argue that the measure is only an electoral strategy and a way to show the public that the state is present and can and will enforce greater punishment on those caught committing crimes.
While most of the spotlight has been given to the amount of retired police officers — not enough information has been given on how they will be trained and how they were chosen, and it leaves many wondering if the Buenos Aires province will indeed be a safer place given the fact that the police force has had a history of corruption and violence in the past.