The reputation of the police across Mexico has been a big talking point in the media for decades, both in the U.S. and Mexico.
The issues often cited (and just as often used as story threads in Hollywood movies and TV shows) are no secret.
With that being said, 2023 so far has been a year of huge change and transformation across law enforcement in Cancun.
A raft of new initiatives, better budgetary decisions, and even a completely revamped policing ethos has seen the destination turn around its image, no small achievement considering several high-profile incidents in 2022 made memorable dents in the destination’s reputation for safety.
Guidance From The U.S.
The police in Cancun have been receiving extensive new support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a federal agency that works to promote democratic values and alleviate poverty in select friendly nations.
As an organization, it can wear many hats, giving aid on matters of health, democratic stability, economic growth, and trade, as well as humanitarian assistance.
This is done with the hope of friendly nations becoming more stable and, therefore, being in a more reliable situation that promotes greater economic cooperation and trade with the United States.
Travelers may be wondering why USAID is operating in Cancun and promoting greater professionalism in the police here, but the answer is a simple one;
Every nation has a duty to protect its citizens, both at home and abroad, and in terms of sheer numbers, there is no bigger traveler population for a nation to watch out for than the millions of sun-loving Americans who visit Cancun each year.
More To Come
So far 243 officers have received this extensive and high-level training from U.S. counterparts, and the scheme is expected to continue for many more officers.
The information is thin on just how many will be brought up to speed, but the next 123 are already in the process of receiving this training boost.
Were They Not Properly Trained?
Travelers would be forgiven for thinking this is a sign that many of the police in Cancun weren’t already properly trained, although that certainly isn’t the case.
This is all part of a huge change of direction for how policing is approached across the state of Quintana Roo. In the past, policing here followed a reactionary ethos. Which, in simple terms, means that policing initiatives, training, and patrols were decided on the basis of dealing with issues that have already surfaced.
Fast forward to now, and Cancun is now the shining light in Mexico for preventative policing. Instead of waiting for issues to surface, the authorities are using modern policing techniques and intelligence to make the city unattractive for criminals.
Time will tell how well this new approach is put into action, although so far, 2023 has been extremely promising, seeing Cancun get close to its pre-pandemic security levels.
Overblown Or Downplayed?
It can be difficult to get a clear picture of how safe any destination truly is. The industries that survive on tourism will of course do their best to keep travelers worry-free, and the local authorities naturally want to be seen as doing a fantastic job.
And with that in mind, the question of whether Cancun’s security situation is overblown or downplayed is one that gets asked regularly, on both American social media as well as local Spanish-language social media.
The truth is, Cancun still has issues to address, but they are being addressed at a much faster rate than anyone expected. If the destination continues on its current path, then it could very well become one of the safety vacation hotspots in the whole of Latin America.
Additionally, it is always worth remembering that when it comes to the issue of crime committed against travelers, Cancun is an extremely safe destination.
Compared to many of the big cities in Europe, such as London, Paris, or even Barcelona, travelers are less likely to be victims of crime in Cancun.
So, while improvements do need to be made, the situation is a lot more positive than just a few short years ago.
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