Good Job Officers

The Costa Rica Police Force Continues to Improve

For many years, the Police Force in Costa Rica did not have a very good reputation due to a limited budget, poor management, and a shortage of well-trained officers. It was common for police to respond to emergency calls hours after a crime had occurred. Consequently, many homes in local neighborhoods were outfitted with bars on doors and windows as a basic form of protection against the slow police response. Although fewer homes now have bars on their windows and doors, for Costa Ricans, this practice remains a cultural marker, even as security continues to improve significantly across the country.

Costa Rica, known for its peacefulness and absence of an army and significant organized crime, did not prioritize security until after the year 2000. Since then, there has been a substantial shift towards enhancing security, resulting in improved police services, new vehicles, and better-trained and equipped officers, even in beach areas.

The Police Force in Action

Recently, my neighbors informed me that their new iPhone had been stolen from their 4X4 vehicle in Playa Panama, and they were unsure of what to do. I advised them to call 911. Officers Camacho and Vasquez arrived about 10 minutes later. My neighbor, having tracked the iPhone's location on her laptop, shared this information with the officers, who then proceeded to search the area and question locals.

Despite their efforts, the iPhone was initially not found, and the officers escorted my neighbor home to file a report, which was submitted to the O.I.J., the organization responsible for investigating crimes. Remarkably, 30 minutes later, the officers returned with the iPhone 7, explaining that someone had found it near the previously searched area. The police presence likely pressured the neighborhood, leading to the quick recovery of the phone. The swift resolution, largely due to Officers Camacho and Vasquez's effectiveness, highlighted their exceptional commitment, diverging from the standard procedure of directing the complaint to the OIJ in Liberia.

It appears that a family member of the young culprits, possibly motivated by drug or alcohol acquisition rather than professional theft, returned the phone to avoid implicating them. My neighbor chose not to pursue the matter further, valuing the return of the phone above all. I am deeply impressed by Officers Diego and Felix, who specialize in the tourism police force in our area and managed to keep my neighbor calm and safe throughout the ordeal.

Their quick action deserves recognition.

Updated Feb 10, 2024

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