Safety — Services

Safety Services:
Forget 911

When you move to Mexico, look at the front of your (or someone else’s if you don’t have yours yet) phone book for emergency phone numbers and write them down in a place you can easily find them.

There are a lot of them: one or two for each safety service.

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Safety — Prevention

Safety in Mexico:
Focus on Prevention

The more you network with the people around you, the more safety you will enjoy in Mexico. Being in contact with your neighbors will prevent crime. In fact, one of the reasons for favor relationships is mutual security. Here in Mexico, neighbors do actually know and watch out for each other. Also, if you pick the right neighborhood, people know who should and should not be around your house.

Also, if something does happen, they can offer support, advice, and important connections in navigating through unfamiliar legal issues.

Most people here are safety conscious—at least in a neighborhood block-watch kind of way. It’s not that they wouldn’t drive without a seatbelt or hold a lit firecracker in their hand; that’s a different kind of safety that Mexicans don’t seem to believe in.

When you are outside of your neighborhood network, use the old rule of “safety in numbers” to protect yourself. Don’t go off alone.

When you first move to Mexico, you should get onto the website of the US consulate nearest you and register with them.

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Safety — Police Tragedies

If the Mexican Police Aren’t Safe…
how can they provide safety to the people?

One of the most difficult tragedies to witness on TV in 2005 was the beating death of two investigators in Mexico City. They were dressed in plain clothes, supposedly investigating a drug distribution center in a neighborhood. The people in the neighborhood became convinced that they were kidnappers and surrounded and attacked them. They were beaten to death, while everyone watched it on TV. TV and newspaper reporters were able to interview them and film them, including from a helicopter as they lay dying, surrounded by an angry mob. The reporters ran to tell police officers on nearby streets, but no one arrived for hours. Both men died.

The media questioned the ice-age slowness of the police response. I questioned the departmental leadership that sent them into this neighborhood without back-up in the first place. The reputation of police officers as corrupt kidnappers brought harm to these presumably innocent men. My heart went out to the men and women who have such an unprofessional, disrespectful, dangerous working environment.

If the police themselves aren’t safe, how can the citizens be safe?

Since living in Cuernavaca, I have heard of 4 kidnappings!  Two of them happened to people that I’ve actually met, one to the father of one of the students at my school and the last to a student at the school of a friend. I’ve also heard of a murder committed by someone’s boyfriend.  Most recently, a student at my school and his father were shot to death in their home by someone who broke in, apparently to steal. 

That’s 6 major crimes in three years. Five more than I had heard of in my entire life living in the Pacific Northwest! When I think about these stories, I feel a lot less safe than when I was at home.

Part of the fear with kidnappings is that the police have been involved. If someone in my family were kidnapped, I’m not sure that I would feel safe calling the police. It’s sad but true; the police don’t provide a sense of safety in Mexico. 

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