Cancun Looks To Increase Its Police Force Permanently To Help Protect Tourists

This week, Quintana Roo authorities have expressed the need to expand its police force, after an influx of summer tourists in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The state of Quintana Roo currently has 3.5 police officers per thousand inhabitants, which is higher than Mexico’s overall average of 2.8. However, the colossal number of visitors expected to arrive in July and August is set to put a strain on the police’s resources, meaning the force must expand permanently.

This announcement came after Quintana Roo failed to meet requirements from the United Nations committee on adequate security measures: the UN dictates that Mexico, and Quintana Roo especially, has a large ‘floating population’ of tourists and foreign inhabitants. However, it does not currently have enough municipal police to adequately protect each and every individual.

Tourists have flocked to cities in Quintana Roo throughout the pandemic, as Mexico was one of the only countries open to American visitors for travel. 2021 alone saw 14.8 million travellers enter the country, the majority of which stayed in the Riviera Maya and Cancun.

The constant stream of tourists has been a double-edged sword for Mexico: whilst it has helped to keep the economy afloat during times of uncertainty, it also makes it more difficult to police such a large population.

Oswaldo Chavez Wiarco, one of Mexico’s specialists in Public Security and Law Enforcement, explained how training more police officers is a matter of great urgency:

“[The lack of officers]… causes them to be unable to cope with their obligations within their functions since they do not have the support of more colleagues who can help them in their work. At the end of the day, this has repercussions on public safety”.

According to the National Census of State Public Security, the national rate of police officers to inhabitants in Mexico has continued to be inadequate throughout the pandemic. In 2021, Mexico only had 0.9 police officers per one thousand inhabitants on average, which is well below the UN’s recommendations.

There are many reasons as to why there is a lack of police officers throughout the country – and in particular, the state of Quintana Roo: Federal administration has channelled money meant for public security and law enforcement into the National Guard and Secretariat of National Defence (SEDENA). This means that there is less money going towards police equipment, training and recruitment, which is vital to protecting tourists.

This failure to invest in policing means that fewer individuals are willing to train for the job at hand, especially as there is little room for officers to be promoted. Quintana Roo authorities are set to re-invest in the police force to ensure that a larger group is available to protect tourists.

This issue becomes more urgent when considering the increase of tourists involved in violent crime over the past few weeks. Businesses and hotels alike urged authorities to take preventive action against violent crimes in the region, after two Canadian citizens were killed in Playa del Carmen last month. Alongside training a larger number of police officers for Cancun, the state of Quintana Roo will continue to protect tourists by implementing surveillance systems across the state.

This most recently occurred in Tulum, where the police force aims to add a large surveillance control system to various tourist-frequented businesses in the city. Government officials believe that a combination of more police officers and surveillance technology will ensure that tourists entering the country during the summer are well protected.


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