Following the April 1st murder of American Barry Lawson, who owned a hotel in Tamarindo, the Tamarindo Integrated Development Association asked members of the Santa Cruz Municipal Council for help on Tuesday, April 14th.
Urs Smith, a member of the association, affirmed that lack of security in the area could end tourism for the beach area.
“We are very concerned about the lack of security in Tamarindo. This is not a new subject, but the murder of Barry spread all the way to CNN. There are already travel agencies that are afraid to do excursions to the area and we know that Tamarindo Beach is one of Santa Cruz’s economic strong points,” said Smith.
Meanwhile, Deyler Mena, a member of the association, invited the council to request an audience with the Ministry of Justice.
“Right now Tamarindo has very few police elements and there is a serious drug trafficking problem. About three drug cartels have already been identified operating in conjunction with pirate taxi drivers and exploiting women for prostitution,” Mena said.
In light of the concern of neighbors, the council members unanimously agreed to declare Tamarindo’s lack of security of cantonal interest and approved coordinating a meeting with the Minister of Justice to develop a strategic plan for security in the area.
The council member from the National Libertarian Party, Martin Vallejos, asked Mayor Jorge Chavarria to strengthen security with members of the Municipal Police.
“All this is very good, but I think people in Tamarindo need immediate action. I think the Municipal Police could help in Tamarindo. The way they run around like thugs, taking away merchandise from the poor street venders, they should defend what is really serious,” Vallejos remarked.
More Police in Tamarindo
During the regular session, the new police chief for the Public Force in the canton of Santa Cruz was introduced: Elder Monge, who was appointed on February 23rd. The chief assured that the number of officers was increased in Tamarindo following the incident.
“Support was requested from the Tourist Police was requested. Before, there were only three officers doing patrols, but now that has been increased to eight who are continually on watch,” Monge affirmed.
Monge also explained that the Public Force has 19 police officers for the coast of Santa Cruz. However, due to the distribution of shifts, about three are patrolling simultaneously.
To improve surveillance, the cantonal chief explained that a Police Support Center (CAP- Center of Apoyo Policial) was permanently assigned with five more guards.
For now, according to Monge, he is working on creating a police station in Tamarindo.
“At this time, all of the paperwork is being done for the donation of land, but being very optimistic, the police station would be functioning in 2016,” Monge said.