(San José) The government of Costa Rica announced on Wednesday a program to strengthen its police force to deal with the increase in crimes by organized gangs.

“We want a better Costa Rica for future generations, and we will only achieve this by fighting crime. I want people to be able to walk the streets quietly,” Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves told police officials in the small Central American country of five million people.

The government has decided to launch the “fast track” recruitment of 400 new police officers by June and is asking Parliament to approve an envelope for the hiring of 300 additional police officers.

MEPs will also have to vote on six bills aimed at strengthening security, in particular to authorize the extradition of Costa Ricans, control the sale of large-caliber ammunition and facilitate telephone tapping.

Public Security Minister Jorge Torres also intends to put a total of 9,500 police officers on the ground within six months through a reorganization of the work of the country’s current 12,000 police officers.

Finally, the authorities will devote five million dollars to the construction of a command and control center, as well as more than a million dollars, seized from drug traffickers, for the “immediate purchase of patrol cars”, indicated the Presidency.

Last year, Costa Rica recorded a record 656 murders, a rate of 12.6 homicides per 100,000 people, compared to a global average of 8/100,000, according to UN statistics. Settlements between criminals account for 63% of this total.

Since the beginning of the year, Costa Rican police have recorded 261 murders in the country.