Wednesday, August 7, 2013

As deadline looms for completion of police background checks, many fail to measure up

Guadalajara -
A plan implemented by former Mexican president Felipe Calderón over five years ago to conduct extensive background checks on all local and state police officers must be completed in just over 10 weeks. But large numbers continue to be dismissed from their positions after failing to pass the rigorous "confidence" examinations, which include polygraphs.

In Monterrey, Nuevo León, a city which has been hard hit by the 80 month old drug war, 150 officers of 440 recently evaluated were dismissed from the force after tests showed they were unfit for service for a variety of reasons.

Altogether about 450,000 local and state police are being examined in a painstaking process which can take an entire day, and which includes the administering of lie detectors, tests for drug usage, physical stamina and psychological profile evaluations and interviews with family members, friends, teachers and employers. The goal is to weed out anyone who might have a link to organized crime, especially to drug cartels, as well as to determine general suitability and fitness for law enforcement.

The long process was supposed to end on Jan. 3, but state and local officials weren't even close to finishing. So Mexico's congress moved the deadline to Oct. 29. Mexico extends time to weed out corrupt local cops. There is no indication the new government will be inclined to grant a further delay, especially as security in states like Guerrero and Michoacán continues to spiral out of control, and civilian militias - theoretically outlawed - continue to fill a vacuum left by the absence of real police.

On Mar. 28 Mexico's lower legislative body, the Cámara de Diputados, was told that only 40% of the country's 32 jurisdictions had completed mandatory evaluations. Confidence checks for local police forces still far behind schedule in 60% of Mexican states.

In nine jurisdictions less than half of state and local police had passed confidence exams by the same date: Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Durango, State of México, Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Yucatán.

In the states of Chihuahua and Quintana Roo - both among the most violent in the nation - 80% or more of local officers had not been verified as trustworthy by the end of February. Mexican Army commander: Cancún police department infiltrated by narcotics traffickers and organized crime.

This week suburban Guadalajara said it is trying to fill hundreds of vacancies on the municipal force. About 30% of existing officers have failed confidence examinations, but almost all have been retained in administrative positions. Only those who tested positive for drug usage were dismissed.

President Enrique Peña Nieto is expanding Mexico's Federal Police - also subject to confidence checks - by some 35,000, and creating a national gendarmerie of 40,000 paramilitary units. The latter will be modeled after Colombia's and those used in several European countries. The new gendarmerie is expected to beef up security in remote rural areas which have been hard hit by narcotics trafficking and organized crime. The first 10,000 units of the gendarmerie, all of whom were drawn from military service ranks, are expected to make their debut during national independence day festivities Sept. 16.

The administration's 2013 domestic security budget of $520 million dollars is 47% greater than that of the previous government in the last year it held office. Its term ended Nov. 30, 2012.

Oct. 15 - Mexican senators seek yet another delay in police vetting

Apr. 7 - Mexican states will spend $1.17 billion on security in 2013
Feb. 15 - Mexico's Supreme Court approves polygraph tests for federal prosecutors, with some limits
Dec. 28 - Mexico pays enormous price for domestic insecurity

Monterrey violence
Mar. 14, 2012 - Five juveniles executed in Monterrey
Feb. 2, 2012 - American missionaries executed near Monterrey
Jan. 27, 2012 - Eight executed on Monterrey street
Aug. 25, 2011 - Monterrey Casino Attack Leaves 52 Dead

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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