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Scioli denies Massa police deal

Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli is seen with Security Minister Alejandro Granados.
Opposition: decision will not change security in the province

Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli yesterday defended his decision to create municipal police forces in the district by decree, vehemently denying speculation that the move marked an improvement in his relationship with Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa.

Scioli said he had ordered provincial Security Minister Alejandro Granados to pass a resolution creating local police forces in every city with a population of over 70,000 inhabitants because the province needed more police officers on the streets and he was tired of discussing the bill with other parties.

“We tried (to discuss a law creating municipal police forces) for over two years, but every time there was progress (some lawmakers) wanted to introduce changes and the discussions were deadlocked,” the governor told Radio Mitre.

Questioned on whether this decision brought him closer to Renewal Front representatives, Scioli simply said: “I did what I had to do, according to what I’ve been defending thus far.”

Scioli signed the decree on Monday, after five ill-fated attempts to get the municipal police bill approved in the Buenos Aires province legislature led by Lieutenant-Governor Gabriel Mariotto.

Questions on leadership

The details of this new police force will be created through a resolution of the Security Ministry led by Granados, a former mayor of the Greater Buenos Aires district of Ezeiza. The former local leader’s tough-on-crime approach has been criticized in the past by centre-left lawmakers and human rights groups.

Scioli said the province “needs officers patrolling the streets, especially local police officers, who will be there to prevent” crimes from being committed.

Regarding another controversial issue — the relationship of the new security force with the questioned Buenos Aires province Police — Scioli stressed the force will not be led by the provincial police but “by civilians from the Security Ministry.”

These civilians will be part of the Local Security Superintendency, which will also be led by Granados.

‘This is not what the people voted for’

For their part, Renewal Front representatives also downplayed claims of a Massa-Scioli deal — and criticized the provincial leader’s decision.

“What the governor did was create another office inside the Buenos Aires provincial Police and say that, a year from now, we will be having more police officers in the municipalities, with the same training and the same police chiefs. This is not what the people voted for,” San Miguel Mayor Joaquín de la Torre — a close Massa ally — said.

Ramiro Gutiérrez, a provincial lawmaker for Massa’s front, said the governor had signed “the death certificate of the Municipal Police” by signing the decree allowing the creation of a local force “that will be commanded by Security Minister Granados.”

Tres de Febrero Mayor Hugo Curto, a Kirchnerite, celebrated the news and recalled his district needed “1,300 police officers,” almost a thousand more than the current 380.

The municipal police “will need to resolve the problems of the district” as soon as possible, Curto added.

As the Herald reported, Massa’s front made municipal police its hobby-horse during last year’s midterm campaign, but unlike most Kirchnerites wanted this “proximity police” to be able to impose harsh controls on the population.

The original bill — written by national lawmaker Dulce Granados, wife of the Security Minister — was also criticized by human rights groups and centre-left lawmakers, who did not want officers of the newly-created force to carry firearms while off duty.

Herald staff with DyN

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