Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Renewing the Mexican police...Is it possible?

Saturday, June 5, 2010 |

















by Lourdes Cardenas for the El Paso Times and Danica Coto A.P.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has the support of most of the state governors to replace local police departments with unified state police forces so the government can better fight unrelenting drug violence that has claimed nearly 23,000 lives since he took office in 2006.

On Thursday, Calderón announced that he is ready to introduce a Constitutional reform bill that would create 32 state police forces, each one operating under a unified command. Pending a cost analysis, Calderon intends to present it to Congress when it resumes session in September.

According to Mr. Calderon, unified state police forces would allow the government to have a better knowledge and control of the police, create mechanisms to carry out routine examinations to officers and providing more effective training and coordination to fight against organized crime.

So far, the military and federal police have led the war against drug cartels launched shortly after Calderon took office in December 2006.

"We want a safe Mexico in which there is no room for the fear, violence and impunity that we suffer today," Calderon said.

The idea makes sense. Currently, Mexico has more than 2,400 municipal police forces, which are not necessarily coordinated or integrated into a state or national body. In many of these little police departments, the agents receive no training or equipment enough to do their job.

The mayor of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's deadliest city with 2,601 drug-related killings reported last year, backed Calderon's proposal and said municipal police are often easy prey in small, close-knit towns.

"The more (a police officer) knows, the more he becomes known," Jose Reyes Ferriz said. "All this makes him more vulnerable to criminals."

Teresa Incháustegui, a federal legislator from the leftist Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) has said that only five percent of the law enforcement officers in the country meet the minimum requirements -in terms of training and equipment- to face organized crime.




The majority of those municipal police officers receive a monthly salary of less than $300, according to Public Safety Secretary, Genaro García Luna. In some areas of the country, their salary is even less than $100 per month. Poorly paid officers are an easy prey for corruption, García admitted in a meeting with federal legislators in the beginning of the year.

Part of the goal is to root out corruption by replacing these generally low-paid, poorly educated local police, who are seen as more susceptible to bribery and intimidation by the powerful cartels.




In Calderon’s view, a unified police would help to solve many of the problems that municipal and state police forces face every day. But most important, it would facilitate coordination in the areas of intelligence, investigation and crime prevention.

The government is also proposing to create a national crime database that would include information on kidnappings, stolen cars and prisoners. A separate database would contain photos of all police officers, their fingerprints and other identifying details.


It does sound good in paper. The problem, however, is in the many questions on implementation of the proposal.

What is to become of the more than 400,000 current municipal police officers? Are they going to be integrated into the state police forces? How are they going to clean up the current state police forces? Are better salaries and working conditions enough to deter corruption? How can they guarantee that the high state commands won’t be corrupted? How long will it take –if it happens– to restore the public’s confidence in the police corps? How will the government guarantee the police’s forces accountability?

Let’s not be pessimistic. Let’s think that these reforms could be a good beginning, but if we are realistic, to have a reliable and capable Mexican police force could take more than one generation to happen. Maybe the children of our children shall be the one to see the results.

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7 Borderland Beat Comments:

kevin said...

I can't imagine what a thankless job being a mexican cop is.

How many of us are going to stick to our "honesty" when the other option is torture and death?

I'm not sure i could. It's a damn shame.

Anonymous said...

this is a good idea...with no chance of happening...too much money against it

Anonymous said...

Support the reform its about time for ethics to finally penetrate the local law enforcment in Mexico virtually the entire good public will benefit. Today not even armed police in Mexico are safe, what about the rest of us who go to Mexico can not even have bullets forced to depend on a non functioning local police Whos your cousin ---

Anonymous said...

Mexico's whole problem is the wages it pays to everyone not just the Police forces,

If a person is payed a decent wage then they would perform there job allot better and not fall into the cartels hands.

And most that are already working for the cartel, if fired would still have the cartel to go to for work.

Anonymous said...

hey guys here in united satates the police officer are corruptes too or they do not chase drugs cartels like mexican goverment that is why is a lot of drugs in this country i never ear they get big cargament drugs like mexican officer they worry more about the illegal workers than drugs dealers please that is funny

Anonymous said...

did you see the videos from central itnteligencia american (cia) how they use military bases to bring drugs from colombia on 70'that is why they do not chase cartel drugs because that is how this country make money go to youtube and tipe cia and watch

Anonymous said...

mexican country need to have penal death for these trafickers drugs kill good police officer

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