Cuenca will close 2022 with a significant increase in violent deaths and. Because of this, the Azuayan capital, like other local governments, increased their spending on security.
Security spending tripled in Cuenca in 2022, a year in which violent deaths doubled and robberies of people, homes and businesses have left the city in anguish.
According to the Public Procurement Portal, in 2021, the Cuenca Citizen Security Council carried out seven contracting processes on security, for an amount of $555,669.
This year, the item tripled and reached $1.5 million, allocated to nine contracts. The expenditure was mainly allocated to equipment for the Citizen Guard and the National Police, in addition to the implementation of video surveillance services and community alarms.
The Security Council has a budget of almost $3 million, of which it has executed 70% thru December 19h, reported Froilán Salinas, director of the institution.
Its main source of income is the citizen security rate paid by Cuencanos. For 2022, the collection was initially expected to be $3.1 million, but after a budget reform, an additional $2.9 million is expected to come in.
Salinas explains that it was necessary to do an internal restructuring to increase budget execution. This was done at the beginning of the year when crime rates began to increase.
“We decided to strengthen the operational part, for example, with the delivery of motorcycles and vans to the Police. That investment exceeded $400,000,” he explained.
This year, both spending and acquisition of supplies and equipment—that are part of the commitment that the Citizen Security Council has with other institutions such as the Police and the ECU-911—increased.
Last year, the Public Procurement Portal only recorded the acquisition of 130 community alarms.
This year, the purchases included 50 new video surveillance systems, 40 body cam devices, body video surveillance equipment, and facial recognition for the Citizen Guard.
There were also 30 dual-purpose motorcycles delivered on loan to the Police, along with five vans that will be delivered this month, and 10 more that are expected to be purchased.
Salinas admits that budget execution still needs to improve, although he maintains that the obstacles in public contracting slows down certain processes.
Amid the security crisis in the country, several local governments have increased their spending on security this year.
The crimes that went up
A report from the Citizen Security Observatory, whose source is data from the Azuay Prosecutor’s Office, shows that the crimes with the greatest increase during 2022 were violent deaths, domestic violence and home robberies.
This report is based on the number of complaints that reach the Azuay Prosecutor’s Office, the main reference for the institutions in charge of security, explains María Fernanda Baculima, coordinator of the Observatory.
In 2022, violent deaths doubled compared to the previous year, going from 12 to 24. This figure, which is handled by the National Police, does not include the 20 murders that occurred in the Turi prison during the April massacre.
But the homicide rate managed by the Citizen Security Observatory does include those crimes. Because of this, Cuenca closed 2022 with 7.3 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
There are other crimes worry about. Complaints of domestic violence grew by 39%—is the most common crime in Cuenca, with a quarter of the total complaints, said Baculima.
Reports of home robberies also increased by 34%. Robberies have been one of the biggest problems in Cuenca this year. Home invasions have occurred in broad daylight, even in residential areas.
The Police say that in most cases, robberies are being done by gangs that they have not yet been able to dismantle.
In total, there was a 16% increase in all crimes monitored by the Citizen Security Observatory. Robberies of business units, vehicles and people are also among the most common.