Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Honesty checks for Mexican local, state police proceed at a snail's pace, with more than half yet to be "verified"

And Federal Police are no longer above scrutiny, either

One of the primary reasons underlying president Felipe Calderón's decision to rely upon Mexico's armed forces when he launched the drug war in December 2006 was to circumvent police corruption at the state and local level. Too often, the "good guys" were on the payroll of the bad guys. That shouldn't surprise anyone. In Mexico, an average municipal cop earns 4,000 pesos a month - $300 U.S.

In 2008, the current PAN administration undertook to "verify" every state or local police officer in the country, of which there are over 450,000. Extensive background checks are being conducted, and every cop must pass a lie detector test. The project has been handicapped by budget constraints and a shortage of polygraph operators. Weeding out corruption is daunting task in Mexico - polygraphs await 500,000.

Speaking at a public event today, Calderón expressed continued confidence in the plan to root out corruption in local law enforcement ranks, even though less than 50% of such police officers have been examined and verified. Sin evaluación, la mitad de los policías estatales y municipales. At the state level, only 32% have passed the white glove test in the past four years.

It used to be that no one, not even president Calderón, worried much about the nation's federal police force. But all that changed one Monday morning in June:

Mar. 29, 2013 - Confidence checks for local police still far behind schedule in 60% of Mexican states
June 25 - Three dead in Mexico City International Airport shooting
June 27 - "Narco Feds" operating out of Mexico City airport sent drugs to U.S., Europe
June 28 - Mexico offers $5 million pesos for "traitor agents" in slaying of three fellow officers
Aug. 19 - Federal Police reassign hundreds of Mexico City officers to weed out corruption

Sept. 18 - At a joint press conference in Washington with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Mexico's Secretary of Government, Alejando Poire, announced that 180,000 local and state police officers have been cleared for continued service. Another 65,000 have been or soon will be dismissed, after failing background checks. "It's a process which will last at least another year," he added.

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