Scioli agrees to fit security cameras on buses
Nearly 8,000 CCTV cameras will be fitted in metropolitan bus lines in what is the first response to the murder of 22-year-old bus driver Leonardo Paz on Friday during a robbery attempt that prompted a 12-hour strike in the sector from noon until midnight.
BA province Security Minister Alejandro Granados met UTA transport workers union leaders yesterday and announced that the surveillance system is just the first of a series of steps to improve security for bus drivers and commuters, as UTA head Roberto Fernández had demanded during Friday’s protest.
“We will fit cameras that will not only record but broadcast online to a headquarter in charge of monitoring everything in real time,” Granados explained.
The secretary was not the only BA province official to address a wave of crime that has been lashing the metropolitan area recently.
Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli also spoke from Mar del Plata City and said success in fighting crime depends on a better administration of justice, in reference to the ongoing debate about the Penal Code reform.
Granados met with the UTA boss one day after the sudden strike left thousands of commuters stranded and caused mayor traffic jams across the metropolitan area in a protest to demand actions from the provincial administration against assaults on drivers and commuters.
Granados revealed that not only will 8,000 cameras be screening in real time a number of BA province-based services — some of them with part of their route through the City — but also 1,000 vehicles from the Patrol Unit will also be repaired to patrol the streets and a number of policemen will once again be assigned once again on buses to escort drivers.
“We will return to the old-habit of police agents travelling on buses seated in the first row or standing at the side of the driver. Everything possible to improve the level of security will be done,” Granados promised.
To reinforce his point, the Security portfolio head, who took office after the Kirchnerite defeat in last year’s midterm vote, also underlined that 10,000 cadets will join the provincial police ranks.
UTA’s Fernández welcomed the announcements made by Granados and anticipated that they will also take the same proposal to the BA City government to equip City-based buses with the same type of surveillance cameras, “because they will be useful to avert attacks or, at least, to identify any person responsible for targeting a bus”.
However, he ruled out fitting units with shielded-cockpits for drivers as they wouldn’t serve to protect the passengers.
“We will urge the Labour Ministry to summon City Hall along with the national and provincial administrations and the business sector to supply a superior safety environment for workers and commuters,” Fernández said.
Scioli weighs in
During a rally in Mar del Plata City with the BA province Police top brass, Scioli said that success in the fight against crime depended largely on how the justice system works.
“Today, we are trying to have a serious, deep and fundamental discussion about the reform of the Penal Code,” said Scioli. The governor highlighted that his administration has already moved forward in 42 reforms of penal procedures to prevent criminals from being released from prison and toughening penalties for those using minors.
“We are living through difficult and dramatic times, with a large number of tragedies, a lot of blood shed and intense violence. But we stand here with the commitment to keep moving forward and doubling our efforts with each step we take,” Scioli promised.
But the provincial administration was also criticized. Some of the harshest words came from Buenos Aires City Deputy Mayor María Eugenia Vidal, who is already canvassing in the province and could run for governor in 2015.
“Part of the problem is that the ones ruling are always the same. The province has been ruled by the same people for the past 25 years with no different results,” Vidal said in an interview with Mitre radio station.
According to Macri’s deputy, the province lacks not only a comprehensive plan to tackle the crime issue, but also policies to fight poverty.
Arrests made after murder
On Friday, only a few hours after the assault on the Line 56 bus, a person was arrested in connection with the murder of the driver. The police said that the suspect was arrested carrying a gun similar to the one used to kill the driver.
At 4.30am that night, two armed men climbed on bus No. 1030 of the 56 bus line when the vehicle stropped at the crossing of Boulogne Sur Mer street and the Riccheri Highway’s side lane.
Police Inspector Sergio Bianchi, the head of the Buenos Aires province Police’s West Zone delegation, said that a police officer travelling on the back of the bus reacted and a gunfight ensued.
Leonardo Paz was twice hit by gunfire and later died in hospital.
Herald staff with Télam, DyN