Officers offer hugs in Ensenada this week. Officers give away hugs in Ensenada.

Cops offer free hugs to citizens of Ensenada

Purpose of the exercise was to build public confidence in the force

Wednesday was hug-a-cop day in Ensenada, Baja California.

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An exercise in social proximity and breaking down barriers between citizens and police took place on downtown city streets as part of a new training program.

Twenty municipal police officers — carrying a sign reading “Free hugs” —  participated in the exercise, which included surveying citizens about their perceptions of the force.

Some 700 people were surveyed, but it was not reported how many hugs were given away.

People were asked what their perception of the Ensenada police was, what good or bad experiences they’d had with the force and what they would like to see changed.

Both hugs and survey are part of a new security program introduced by Mayor Marco Novelo, who wants residents to have greater confidence in the municipal police.

The hug, said police instructor José Melo Flores, is a tool that “allows us to break down psychological barriers that exist between the citizens and the police,” often seen as repressive and dedicated to extortion and theft.

Source: Zeta Tijuana (sp)

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