Now for a more detailed look you can go by region. Follow the link provided by the police department and search under the different regions. Mind you, I noticed that the map of my region was cut off right in the area where the middle and upper class live. Coincidence? Conspiracy? On the one hand I can easily see the person who chopped our section off assuming it wasn’t needed, since hey, that area can afford private security so why bother publishing it. I can also very easily see that area being strategically edited because there is a massive real estate boom in that area and a published record of crime in the area is bad for business. Keep this in mind when you look up the information on different locations.
I mentioned the relationship between private security and social class because social class is a big part of life down here. No, it is not like India’s caste system, but it does affect day-to-day life here much more than in most places. For now I have learned that the police department feels obligated to secure those in the lower income areas while in some cases, completely abandoning the middle and upper classes to their own devices. The devices usually entail walled-in communities, gated entries, private security vehicles on patrol, private alarm systems, a host of loud guard dogs, barbed wire and even electric fences. This is in the NICE areas, not the hood.
As of late a locally declared crime wave has hit our town involving smash and grab robberies of vehicles and businesses. We have even had a few carjackings. This of course was a fine opportunity to see the local citizens take action, beginning with one of my Twitter cohorts, Ale. She blogged about her concerns and then tweeted away. Our Twitter group supported her efforts and helped spread the word. The campaign got the attention of the local police department as well as the mayor who has met with the concerned citizens at a coffee shop and later a restaurant to discuss their concerns. You gotta love that in lieu of the usual visual of a crowded room of angry citizens hissing at the mayor whilst sweating at the podium here the mayor wines and dines with everyone….until they are conciliatory.
To date the community efforts have resulted in an increased police presence and the promise of someday, hopefully the construction of a local precinct. Currently the nearest one is 17 kilometers away. Below you will see two aerial images of two of the most coveted real estate areas in the metropolitan area of Santiago: La Dehesa/ Lo Barnechea and Chicureo/Piedra Roja. Both are links to recent newspaper articles regarding the same dilemma: They are demanding the protection of the public police force because they are tired of digging into their own pockets for private security measures that are not necessarily effective.
The police force in Chile is more about bureaucracy than corruption so bribes are not in order. If you do ever get pulled over just remember to speak English, smile and cooperate. Based on my not-so-scientific research those of us who “Hablar poquito Spañol” were sent on our way a lot faster than those who attempted to negotiate the matter. They are busy enough as it is with the student marches. Imagine being instructed by your superior to pry off cute little protesters from buildings for the world media to see. Curious? Go ahead, it’s a link.