Honduras' notoriously violent city San Pedro Sula is on the verge of setting up a massive video surveillance system, indicating authorities are willing to try new methods to improve public security.
San Pedro Sula, the second most populous city in Honduras -- and the world's most violent city not at war -- is set to invest between $4 million to about $7 million in a camera surveillance system aimed at improving public security, Mayor Armando Calidonio told local press.
The investment is part of a larger public security project covering Honduras' northwestern Sula Valley. Some 2,300 security cameras are to be installed in Sula Valley, of which more than 1,500 of those to be installed in the city proper.
On top of new cameras, authorities plan to create a 911 emergency phone system and a central video monitoring station, to be controlled by Hondura's inter-institutional security force, known as Fusina. Increased police foot and motor patrols will accompany the new surveillance system, Security Minister Julian Pacheco said, without providing further details.
International firm Dynamic Corporation is in charge of installing the cameras and plans to complete the process in one year, with the first cameras online in the next two months. The system boast night-vision capabilities and is similar to that used to identify suspects during the bombing of the Boston City Marathon, company director Oscar Castro was quoted as saying.
InSight Crime Analysis
Honduran officials have often been proponents of the "Iron Fist" or "Mano Dura" approach to public security, with President Juan Orlando Hernandez currently promoting the use of the heavily-armed military-staff police force known locally as PMOP.
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Unfortunately, the militarization of police has often been linked to increased human rights abuse in Latin America, while failing to address the underlying issues that make the region's cities so violent.
Although technology-based crime solutions are not necessarily a huge break from Mano Dura policies, San Pedro Sula's upcoming camera system may indicate some authorities are looking to try alternatives to previous hardline crime strategies.
One issue will be putting aside the funds needed to keep San Pedro Sula's new camera system going. Capital city Tegucigalpa had to turn off its surveillance cameras in early 2013 due to a fiscal crisis.