Reporting Crime and Police Response Procedures
As part of ANA’s Collaboration on Crime Prevention
VEA is Vallarta’s new neighborhood-based crime prevention program – sort of a ‘Neighborhood Watch’ on steroids, providing instant reporting via Whatsapp, VEA is an acronym for Vecinos En Alerta – ‘Neighbors on the Lookout’ – and Amapas has been invited to participate.
In a recent example of VEA’s ability to summon immediate police response, last month ANA Board Member for Security Gene Mendoza used the Whasapp group to trigger a life-saving rapid response from authorities. It’s already working.
(This is the second in a series, drawing on ANA-Sponsored neighborhood/police meetings. You can find the first article on the ANA Website here.)
I called the police, now what?
After reporting a crime via Whatsapp, dialing 911 (or 089 for anonymous reporting), members of our neighborhood have asked what to expect.
The first response to reported crime or crime in progress is taken by the municipal police who will arrive and take action to stabilize the situation and coordinate care for any injured parties. With that accomplished, the police will make a report of what transpired including an initial report of any property losses.
Be sure to get a copy of the police report number for further reference, and email it to ANA Administrator Viviana Teston — firstname.lastname@example.org – for follow up.
The municipal police serve primarily as Preventive Police (Policía Preventiva) and do not investigate crime, but collect and catalogue crime information to identify emerging patterns or trends that might aid in future crime prevention. They pass their report up the chain of command for more complete investigation.
Investigation of the Crime by Agents of the District Attorney
No later than two to three days after the initial crime report is taken by the municipal police, victims should expect to be contacted by the investigative Ministerial Police who perform the preliminary investigation. These officers, from the District Attorney’s Office (Fiscalía), will collect and catalogue the crime information for the purpose of apprehending and prosecuting the perpetrators.
The formal preparation of victims’ statements is very important to the Mexican legal system, but the District Attorney stated in the February 16th VEA meeting that victims should not be required to visit the District Attorney’s Office to sign the formal translation of their statements.
Victims of property crime, including theft and burglary, should expect to be asked to demonstrate their ownership of the stolen property through sales receipts, model and serial number information, or the statement of a witness (friend or neighbor) vouching for the presence of the property before the crime.
Most cases of petty property crime will not require the use of Expert Services Unit more commonly referred to on TV as the crime scene investigators or CSI. However, in serious crimes, these services may be employed to take finger prints and other forensic evidence.
So, if you’re the victim of a crime, the arrival of the Municipal Police is just the beginning, not the end, of your involvement. If the Investigative Police don’t show up after two or three days, you should get in touch with the Fiscalía – see, we told you that police report number would come in handy – and follow up.
As the DA explained in our second meeting, every police force at every level has limited resources to pursue criminal cases, so they prioritize – the worst crimes, and crimes most likely to be solved, understandably get the most attention.
If your case is relatively minor, or unlikely to be solved (lack of witnesses, lack of evidence, etc.), it may not get the attention you think it deserves. If that’s the situation, it’s up to you to push the DA’s office for more follow-up.
You can also contact Tourism’s Legal Attention to Visitors Office, offering free legal assistance to tourists and resident expats. Their office in Cardenas Park is open Monday-Friday, 8 to 4. There’s also a desk in the Tourism office in the downtown City Hall, Monday-Friday, 8-8. English is spoken, and they offer help with translation. The office phone is 322-222-2224. Initial complaints can be made by email, preferably with details and photos included. The office email is email@example.com
On March 23, mostly Gringo ANA co-hosted our first bilingual, bicultural celebration of international friendship with mostly Mexican sister association Viejo Vallarta (part of Emiliano Zapata) at the Lions Club, and it was a blast.
Over 300 guests sampled great food provided by 40 top Vallarta restaurants and caterers, accompanied by Mariachi music. Margaritas flowed freely, along with goodwill, as Mexicans, Canadians and U.S. citizens dined and drank together, enjoying some amazing folkloric dancing, as well as Act II Stages star Brittany Kingery, who channeled Linda Ronstadt’s Cansiones De Mi Padre.
The event took in 88,000 pesos. After expenses, the money will be used by ANA and Viejo Vallarta to purchase a pair of pressure-washers to clean our respective areas’ streets and sidewalks – goodbye nasty street stains and odors, hello, cleanliness!
Your Amapas Neighborhood Association has an excellent relationship with our local police. That’s one reason they invited our colonia to participate in the new VEA Program – a sort of ‘Neighborhood Watch on steroids’ with an added Whatsapp element to ensure a rapid response in crime emergencies.
It’s all about crime prevention and community participation, which is where we come in. As part of the program’s roll-out, police have had good turnout at four ANA-sponsored informational neighborhood meetings, including two walking tours with local residents, identifying unsafe or potentially dangerous areas for particular police attention.
One thing that makes VEA different from a typical Neighborhood Watch is that this program is sponsored by the police, so they’re ‘all in.’ Another is VEA’s ‘Emergency Only’ Whatsapp group, which is monitored by the Police Chief himself, his deputies and watch commanders.
The Amapas Emergency VEA group works! We saw it in action last month, when a VEA Whatsapp message got immediate police and bomberos response that saved the life of an attempted suicide.
We’re now adding individual neighbors to our Amapas VEA ‘Emergency Only’ Whatsapp group.
We’ve asked Full Member Buildings to designate their own VEA contact. If you see a crime in progress, or a seriously dangerous situation unfolding, first call 911 – the operators speak English. Then call, text or email your VEA contact, Security Board Member Gene Mendoza or ANA Administrator Viviana Teston – they’ll send a Whatsapp text that will go straight to the top of the police chain of command, getting immediate response.
Not for reporting stray dogs on the highway, kittens in trees, or late-night noise (that’s all 911 territory), the VEA ‘hotline’ is for emergencies only.
We’ve asked HOA presidents or Boards to appoint your VEA contact – check with them to learn who your building’s contact person will be.
911 has finally arrived in Puerto Vallarta as a universal emergency phone number – and the operators speak English! But to get truly rapid response throughout greater Vallarta, it’s necessary to upgrade the radio transmissions of our emergency responders: police and bomberos.
Local businesses attempted to raise $10,000 USD through private donations. But contributions stalled short of the needed amount. Because Security is one of ANA’s priority missions (see ‘VEA Program’ below), your ANA Board scrounged $20,000 pesos from its already tight 2017 budget to close the deal.
After all, if we’re not there for 911 Emergency Response, Police and Bomberos…how can we expect them to be there for us when we need them?
It’s not too late to contribute at GoFundMe.com/PV911!
Some generous ANA members in Paramount Bay have pledged about $3,000 USD = $60,000 pesos to fund Phase One of ANA’s Highway Sidewalk Project.
As reported earlier, ANA commissioned an architectural plan for improving the partially paved path that runs along the west side of Highway 200.
Our goal is a continuous hard-surface, all-weather sidewalk that will help residents, renters, visitors, and workers get from our homes in the hills of Amapas, down to the beach and into town without taking their lives in their hands, as they sometimes do when they have to step out onto the highway, sometimes having to dodge kamikaze cabs and 18-wheelers speeding around its many blind curves.
Our Project Supervisor, Fernando Hernandez, is working on a materials list and construction schedule that he’ll soon convert into a budget.
Next stop: City Hall, where we’ll present our detailed plans to the Planning Department for approval and support. Then the work will begin, first clearing overgrown vegetation and fallen rock from the path, then pouring the planned 1.5 meter wide sidewalk and constructing protective retaining walls and improving storm drains.
Phase One – pretty much opposite Paramount Bay – begins at the Villa Sausalito driveway, going north to the paved driveway opposite Villa Tizoc.
Once people see what we’ve accomplished, we hope they’ll chip in and help us finish our new sidewalk.