The mayors of the 32 Colombian district capitals met with the Ministry of Defence to set out and coordinate their priority requirements for public safety. The mayors, represented by the Asocapitales guild, say that public safety is now their most pressing concern.
They want the Ministry of Defence to provide a coordinated response to the problem by addressing five specific issues:
– Measures to reduce homicides
– Tools for dealing with public demonstrations
– Redesigned security models
– The treatment of drug addiction as a mental health issue
– Overcrowding in prisons
The mayor of Cali, Jorge Ivan Ospina, was chosen to represent the mayors at the Ministry of Defence. The mayors state that they are facing a crime epidemic which threatens the health, lifestyle and wealth of their citizens, and that any initiative to tackle the problem would be welcome. With this in mind, the mayor of Valle del Cauca announced that his city would be setting up a reward fund to help capture criminals, a strategy previously employed in Medellín.
The mayors argue the need for more comprehensive policies to be rolled out through education, culture and sport, and say that radical opposition to adults who use minors for criminal purposes must be forthcoming. One of their proposals is that every municipality should have a dedicated public safety task force.
Another is that the national surveillance guidelines for police precincts be redesigned. They believe that when planning and drafting policing methods, the idiosyncrasies, culture and crime phenomena of each city must be considered.
With regard to drug use, the mayors want to see the problem treated as a mental health issue, arguing that comprehensive policies on addiction are required. The objective, according to the mayors, is to see order and security on the streets and transform no-go areas into safe and secure environments for all.
Lastly, the Asocapitales guild made the Government aware of their concerns about the situation in both prisons and Immediate Reaction Units (URI), as well as raising the issue of a lack of funding for building new penitentiary facilities.