By: Federico Jankilevich
Attorney At Law
Copyright 2017 – All Rights Reserved
The recent news outlets have placed emphasis on the efforts of Costa-Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis and current Security Minister (Eq. Secretary of Homeland Security in the U.S.), Gustavo Mata, to generate a new strategy, reinforce and strengthen pre-emptive as well as repressive measures to protect Costa-Rican citizens.
While the present budget adds $46 million dollars and 1,500 police officers this year to the Operational Budget for the Costa-Rican police forces, its disappointing to see that the big questions in terms of Costa-Rican police forces still remain unanswered: Why is there no University-Level formation for police officers in Costa-Rica? Why is it that officers don’t get publicly endorsed and publicly recognised? An outstanding police officer should have the opportunity to take home formal decorations in recognition of their public services to the community and receive a patrimonial benefit as a result of the decoration. These, in turn, should be part of a graded scheme that allows promotion and recognition as a career police officer. It can be inferred from the above-cited that a review of Law Enforcement statutes and instruments is due. In this sense, new Chapters should be implemented so that the the governing bodies of Law generate a programmatic transition towards the police standards of Developed World police forces. It can be inferred from the last UNO-OECD report that a present gap exists between OECD member nations and Costa Rica when it comes to the standards of Law Enforcement. There fore, if Costa Rica has the political objective of becoming an OECD member country, further planning is required to uphold global standards.
Nevertheless, as a Legal and Financial chronicler, my main concern encompasses Wages: A big issue throughout the years pertaining the police in Costa Rica has been and is to the present how salaries are disbursed. It seems we have parted from a model where the police were not as extensive, but better paid, to one where there are more police officers that don’t get the expected compensation. As a point of reference, its useful to extrapolate the salary of a Deputy Sheriff from the U.S.A. which ranges from $30k to $70k depending on trajectory and can have an additional $24k in Benefits. In practical terms, these figures are Purchase Price Parity at 70%. Therefore, from an Economic stance, its possible to present the following inquiry: How would the police forces in Costa-Rica work if the Costa-Rican equivalent of a Deputy earned $21k USD at the Entry Level and $49k USD during Retirement? Presently, the Entry-Level Salary of a Police Officer in Costa Rica is just above $9k per year, which is about half of its American counter-part (PPP). Would we have a more efficient police force if we had half the police officers in the street with twice the salary and a University Degree was required to be sworn into duty?
Escazu, one of the primary destinations for American Expatriates is used as a place of origin for comparison with some cities in the Northeast. Figures from O.I.J. and the Boston Police Department indicate that five robberies occur in the city of Boston for every robbery that takes place in San Jose (assuming a cet. par. population density for both cities). Therefore, it can be inferred that in terms of theft and robbery, a main concern in Greater Metropolitan Areas, the western part of San Jose remains on par with what is deemed as safe in the United States. Figures also reveal that there have been half as many robberies to commercial establishments for the present year when compared to the national American Average (United States Census Bureau). Does this mean we have more police officers than we need? Is the present number of budget-approved officers on board in excess of the incidence rates (theft, robbery, burglary, vandalism, arson, assault)?
The discrepancies from the above-cited sources suggest that Costa Rican politicians are conservative in terms of numbers when it comes to budget-approved officer salaries. However, the prevailing distance from OECD standards suggests that an integral approach may become more effective in the long-term for the purpose of elevating the nation’s police forces to global standards.