Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guadalajara's police force could be slashed in two weeks

"Mexico needs a real renovation of its police forces, the most important link in public security" - President Enrique Peña Nieto, Oct. 15

Guadalajara -
The Jaliscan capital could automatically lose half of its metropolitan police force by the end of October if a 58 month old federal mandate to conduct confidence checks on almost half a million state and local police officers nationwide is not extended, the state Board for Police Evaluation (BPE) has reported.

Mexico's federal congress passed a law in 2008, during the administration of former PAN president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, which requires every police officer in the nation to submit to an extensive battery of polygraph, background and other fitness for service tests. Examinations began in January 2009, and were to be completed by Jan. 3, 2013. But huge numbers of officers had not been tested by that date, so the congress agreed to postpone the testing deadline to Oct. 29. Mexico extends time to weed out corrupt local cops.

Mexican states continue to lag far behind in the burdensome process, which can require many man hours of investigation for each officer on the payroll. The law provides that personnel not verified for professional competency and fidelity by the end of the month must be automatically terminated from public service. Across the nation 30% of all federal and state officers remain in the untested category, which yesterday prompted senate leaders to introduce a bill extending the deadline for completion of evaluations for one year. Mexican senators seek yet another delay in police vetting.

The evaluation mandate is federal, but each of Mexico's 32 jurisdictions must conduct its own costly confidence checks, further challenging many financially strapped states which are already operating in the red (Mexican state, local debt leap).

About 1,300 Guadalajara police officers are targeted for automatic dismissal at the end of the month, according to the Jalisco BPE. The city has a police force of 2,600, 60% of whom have been evaluated and passed. But another 1,100 have not been tested, and 250 were deemed inadequate for continued service and have been culled from police ranks.

State wide, 63% of all Jalisco police officers have been evaluated, with a 25% rejection rate. Officers may be dismissed due to inability to pass physical tests, lack of demonstrated preparedness for the job and background checks or polygraph results which reveal criminal records or suggest drug cartel and/or organized crime associations.

Perhaps more worrisome for Jalisco officials are the results of confidence checks within the state prosecutor's office. One in four employees failed their evaluations. And since physical tests are not part of the regimen for most, as they are for cops on the street, the logical conclusion is that more sinister factors may account for the high rate of dismissals in that office. No confiable, uno de cada cuatro agentes de la Fiscalía General.

On April 23, Guadalajara's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) mayor, Ramiro Hernández García, told the press, "I'm worried about security in the city. We've not had the results we wanted."

Mexico's PRI secretary of government warned earlier this month that some communities could find themselves without a police force if the state based evaluations were not quickly completed.

Oct. 22 - A chart prepared by a federal agency suggests Jalisco has some of the least trustworthy cops and prosecutors in the nation, with an average rejection rate of about 25%. Policías de Jalisco, de los menos confiables del país. Mexico's senate fortunately approved a one year extension of the testing period last week. Had it not done so, over 11,000 officers across the state would have faced automatic termination by the end of the month. Top national honors for the worst law enforcement personnel was easily captured by the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa, a stronghold of the drug cartel of the same name.

Mar. 9 - Jalisco Secretary of Tourism assassinated in Guadalajara
Apr. 16 - Police intelligence officer executed in Guadalajara
July 10 - In Guadalajara, 20 local gangs work with organized crime
Sept. 24 - Jalisco prosecutor announces arrest of gang members involved in bar attacks which killed American citizen
Oct. 11 - "Zeta killers" behind gun battle which killed three Jalisco police officers

© 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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