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Old 12-18-09, 08:24 AM   #1
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Default Baja Police - New measures to revive tourism

Mexican police force aims to revive tourism

By ELLIOT SPAGAT Associated Press Writer
Posted: 12/18/2009 01:33:20 AM PST

SAN DIEGO—Mexican cities south of the California border are broadening their policing expertise with the aid of San Diego in a bid to revive their tourism business.

About 25 police officers from Tijuana, Playas de Rosarito and Ensenada have attended a one-day course at the San Diego police academy to prepare for the April 1 launch of the Metropolitan Police, a joint effort of the cities to patrol a 70-mile stretch of Pacific coastline. The force will have its own uniform and marked cars.

Mexican officials hope San Diego's involvement will provide a boost after three years of drug-fueled violence that kept many Americans from visiting fine restaurants, craft shops and pristine beaches on the northern Baja California peninsula.

"It won't be magic but at least we're trying," William Yu, Tijuana's liaison for binational affairs, told the officers Thursday as he prepared them for the ceremony.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and his Mexican counterparts are scheduled to honor the officers at a ceremony Friday at San Diego police headquarters. Sanders, the city's former police chief, last month praised Tijuana for its work overhauling a police department long considered corrupt and ineffective.

The instructor, San Diego police Sgt. David Landman, drew on training material that is widely used by California law enforcement agencies, including role-playing techniques with an emphasis on how to treat people respectfully.

If you ticket someone for a traffic violation, never say goodbye by wishing the driver a good day, Landman said. The person is probably upset about the ticket.

"You're making fun of the person," he said. "That's unprofessional."

Landman, who oversees training for veteran San Diego officers, quizzed the officers often.

"If a police officer runs a stop sign, it sends a very bad signal to the people," one said.

"You must practice what you preach, set an example for the people," another chimed in.

Officers said they liked the audience participation and a visit to a simulated shooting range in which they were asked to react to threatening scenarios played on a video screen.

The officers will return to Mexico to train other 30 officers in each of the three cities for the special force.

Some Mexican officials and American expatriates say the region has been unfairly tarnished, partly by repeated media reports of violence against tourists more than two years ago. Officials say the vast majority of murder victims are small-time drug dealers caught in turf battles.

Friday's ceremony comes amid a surge of killings in Tijuana—66 during the first half of December—that some experts say could spell the end of a truce between crime boss Fernando Sanchez Arellano and a former lieutenant, Teodoro Garcia Simental.

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