Looking at Dome's Beach from El Faro Park

Friday, April 30, 2010

Crime in Rincon?

There has been a lot of talk lately about a rise in crime in Rincon and while we haven't been here that long, some long term residents have mentioned the increase.  To be sure the crime we are talking about here is not violent, it's mostly just theft and break-ins, in fact I haven't heard of any people being harmed in any way.   But there seems to be no opposition to the fact that crime has increased.  Is it due to economic circumstances, the cut-backs in jobs and spending has obviously made a dent on the Puerto Rican economy as it has everywhere else.  Or maybe, as some residents believe, it is a result of the coming Caribbean Games in Mayaguez and the displaced residents in some of the public housing there to make way for the influx of athletes and attendees of the games, the reason being these poor are criminals and have moved to Rincon.  I must admit I find this to be a stretch.
     Last night we went to a meeting at the Villa Cofresi introducing the new Chief of Police for the Puerto Rico Police Attachment, Capt. Matilde Rodríguez Rivera.  It was an interesting meeting as we learned a lot about our policing system here in Puerto Rico and also a few first hand accounts of the types of crimes occurring in Rincon.    Captain Rivera's first comments seemed to be defensive in nature, but also stating the obvious. To paraphrase; People come to Rincon and think that there is no crime so they can leave their car windows open and items in their cars and on the beach, but this is what invites criminal behavior.  It is up to us as residents to educate our guests that they need to secure valuables.  Part-time residents need to have alarms on their property for when they are gone for extended lengths of time.  Another problem is that victims are often tourists and they usually leave before they can help with the judicial process.
     So her theme was that the police need help to prevent crime, and this is an understandable request.  All the things she said are true, but some of the crimes described by the people attending the meeting didn't fall into that category so there must be more we can do.  At this point in the meeting we learned that there are 2 different police forces in Rincon, the municipal police, which is located on Rt. 115 and is not captained by Matilde Rodriguez Rivera and the State Police, which is and is located near the school on Calle 2.  It turns out, like many overlapping police organizations, the communication between the two police squads isn't very good (a resident next to us said it was due to different political affiliations).  The fact that the Captain admitted this is a surprise and shed light on the fact that although Mayer Bonilla was scheduled to attend, he did not and no one from the municipal police were in attendance either. Captain Rivera promised that if her station was called, 911 or (787)823-2020, she would send an English speaker officer to take the report if requested.
     A Neighborhood Watch program that is popular in other communities was discussed and many of this meetings attendees volunteered to be a part of a similar program for Rincon which would begin in early May.  I think a Neighborhood Watch program would increase communication between the residents, both locals and English speaking, and the police.  Separating facts from rumors will help us see trends in where crime is occurring and hopefully, why. I agree with Captain Rivera that it is as much the responsibility of the people of Rincon to prevent crime as it is the police to catch the perpetrators.   Overall, a productive meeting that may form the basis for a more involved community in the safety of Rincon, it's residents and guests.