The Salvadoran National Civil Police (PNC) has announced that it will deploy police officers to 50 schools in San Vicente department, focusing on perceived high-risk areas. Among the areas to which the heightened security presence is to be implemented are Tecoluca and San Vicente municipalities - also focal points of the related Plan El Salvador Seguro (PES).
The police deployment comes as part of a larger 2018 School Prevention and Protection Plan, in which the National Civil Police and the Armed Forces will dedicate more than 1500 agents to provide security for 1100 schools across the country. The forces will also provide violence prevention seminars to students and organize sporting events in local communities.
In recent years, the government has made reducing violent crime and gang activity one of its top priorities. The government's approach is highly militarized, involving the use of elite police and military units, which have been accused of killing with legal impunity. In April 2017, the Special Temporary and Extraordinary Security Measures (Las Disposiciones Especiales Transitorias y Extraordinarias de Seguridad), first enacted in April 2016, were extended for another year. These measures increased detention periods for suspects, allow the army to participate in public security, and increased police authority in conducting searches and seizures.
El Salvador remains one of the most violent countries in the world, with more homicides registered in recent years than during the Salvadoran civil war, due in large part to its various gangs that target schools as part of recruitment efforts.
Due to extremely high crime rates, individuals present in El Salvador are advised to maintain a low profile (conceal signs of wealth), drive with windows closed and doors locked, and keep in mind that criminals may be armed (do not resist if confronted, and do not look your attacker directly in the eye). Due to high crime rates, some Western governments advise against nonessential travel to parts of the country.
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