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Rosarito Police Reform Talk

JULY 14, 2009

Rosarito Beach Mayor Tells International Law Enforcement Group Of Police Reforms

ROSARITO BEACH, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO---Mayor Hugo Torres told an international law enforcement organization of the many improvements made in his city's police force in the past 18 months.

"I ran for office because of the problems in the police force," Torres told a July 9 meeting at the Chula Vista Golf Course of the International Liaison Officers Association, which represents Southern California and Baja agencies.

The changes have come with the support of the Mexican federal and Baja state governments, which are working together on fighting organized crime influence and reforming police departments, he said.

"This is an ideal time to work together with these levels of government," said Torres, who took office in December of 2007. "We're all on the same page."

Since he took office, Torres said:

About half of Rosarito's then-149-member police force has been replaced, after testing showed that many did not meet department standards for honesty and other criteria.

Under new Police Chief Jorge Montero, a retired Army captain, the police force at the same time has been increased from 149 to 217 officers, many of them former military.

City officers have been provided with better equipment, pay and other benefits.

The city, a popular destination for visitors from California and the Southwest, also has created a special Tourist Police Force of its best officers.

Discussions also are underway to create a special police force that would serve the tourist corridor from Tijuana to Rosarito to Ensenada.

Despite the improvements, Torres said, tourism in Rosarito has been down by 70 percent or more in the past year.

That's largely due to the mistaken impression, partly created by some misleading media reports, that the government's crackdown on drug cartels and organized crime has made the area unsafe for visitors, he said.

In his talk, the mayor provided the law enforcement group with several examples of coverage that gave a misleading impression of Rosarito.

In fact Rosarito has never been safer, he said. "It's the same as New Orleans or Las Vegas, if you stay in the tourist areas you're not going to have any problem," he said. "The tourist has never been a target."

Mayor Torres also thanked the important bi-national law enforcement group for providing him with the opportunity to talk about policing progress in Rosarito.

Ron Raposa

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