Friday, June 04, 2010

Mexico may eliminate municipal police over corruption

Here's an extraordinary proposal coming out of Mexico:
Mexico's president is vowing to push forward a plan that would eliminate local police departments and replace them with state law enforcement agencies. ...

Mexico's federal police is leading the war on drugs, but Calderon said he would like to see state police play a stronger role if the government agrees to disband weak and corrupt municipal forces.

Mexico has 2,022 municipal police forces, while 12 of Mexico's 31 states have police departments.

I don't have an opinion on the merits of this proposal, though I'm fascinated by the fact that Mexico's 31 states have fewer police agencies combined than the 2,500+ law enforcement agencies in Texas. Municipal police are often corrupt in Mexico, but if they were to switch to all state police it could just create one-stop shopping opportunities. At most, it seems like it might force cops to cut their deal with a single cartel where right now different departments are corrupted by competing factions. In other words, if it reduces the violence it probably wouldn't be because the drug flow stopped but because one cartel "won" in a particular state. What do you think: Good idea, bad one, or just beside the point?

RELATED: From AP, "Reports: Border with Mexico not as dangerous as politicians say."

8 comments:

College Cop said...

The article is simply wrong. Every Mexican State has a State Judicial Police, not just 12 of them, State Police posts are called "Delegations".

Also, Mexico only has 2300 "municipalities" to begin with, meaning that Mexico the country has fewer municipalites than Texas the State.

Texas LE is in keeping with the American (Decentralized) Model of Law Enforcement, with 18,000 seperate LE Agencies at all levels.

Mexico's LE is both more Centralized (with only 1/6th as many agencies as the U.S.) but bigger per capita. Mexico has 111 million people (1/3rd the U.S.) but has 500,000 cops compared to our 830,000. In addition Mexico has 50,000 Army troops to supplement it's police. Only since the late 60s has the United States had more police in total than Mexico.

Now, about the proposal, Mexico is a different place, but getting rid of municipal police wuold make the porblem worse, not better. Mexican Police Forces are over-centralized, poorly paid, poorly trained mega-bureacracies with little internal or external oversight. Further Cenralization without fixing the core problems will just make it EASIER for the crime syndicates to turn police, not harder.

Anonymous said...

I shudder to think what it would be like to live in a country where the central/federal government could tell a city or municipality whether it could have a police dept. or not.

R. Shackleford said...

Bad idea. The highest bidding cartel would own the country. By doing this, Calderon might well wake up one morning to discover he'd handed the reigns of his country over to one single cartel, thus creating the world's first true narco state, shortly before he got his throat slit.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that over 80% of all police agencies, including the federal army, are involved. Eliminating the municipal police is just another futile, political-cover, gimmick. My understanding is that the municipal police are powerless (and just as afraid as everyone else).
If you cut off the head of one serpent, two or more will replace it. Cut off one of the heads of one of these, and then another, eventually you evolve into a many-headed serpent, which is how I see the situation in Mexico today (the mass killing). The situation goes way beyond eliminating the municipal police.
The other post today: http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2010/06/describing-cash-smuggling-by-cartels.html
shows, in part, how entrenched the situation is in the U.S.
Rather than spending money on military support to Mexico, and building a wall along the border (the U.S. as a gated-community), I think it would be beneficial to channel resources toward developing Mexico for Mexicans, not the U.S. (products or transportation routes to the U.S. for China products). (The U.S. is overdue for major policy changes as well.)
I also think it's important to realize the influence of organized crime - it goes beyond "drugs" or legalizing drugs, or eliminating the municipal police.

Anonymous said...

The sad fact of the matter is that the cartels have more money than the Mexican government. It will take a genuine war with full uniformed combatants to defeat the gangs and cartels in Mexic and Central America. Planes with bombs and tanks and drone bombers and lots and lots of napalm. The coruption is too imbedded in all levels of government to ferret it out with conventional methods. No, I am not saying everyone is corrupt, just enough. Do you really think that an underpaid official can have any impact on the drug problem when there are people with unspeakable wealth buying off the underlings.? Yes, this is a radical idea but it has gone too far to stop with swat teams and a few defoliating planes. The legitimate economy of Mexico is heading into the toilet...who wants to go to Mexico to shop and vacation and spend money with all the street murders going on? Not I.. and I used to go to Mexico alot to shop and sight-see.

Richard Grabman said...

College Cop somewhat misunderstands the situation. There are 2300 or so separate police agencies, not 2300 municipios. A municipio is the smallest unit of local administration, but it more or less a county within a state (and a federal congressional district). A municipio may have several different police departments... traffic police may be different than judicial police who are different from preventative police. The same holds true for the various police agencies for the 32 states and the Federal District... and at the federal level (where you also have some specialized unites like SIEDO, something like the U.S.'s DEA.

These various police agencies have different functions, and sometimes answer to different branches of government (Judicial police, as the name suggests, work for the judiciary and carry out court orders; preventative police are part of the executive branch).

There have been moves to combine various departments within municipios (and within the Federal District), which create some problems with defining command and control, etc.

No one questions that officers are often ill-paid and ill-trained (but remember, a Municipio's budget comes from the state, who largely receives their budget from the federal government... we have very little in the way of local taxation in Mexico)and police support is often at the whim of local politicians. Where I live in the Municipio de Mazatlán, Sinaloa, our police are being combined (at least the traffic and preventative police) but the police budget is at the mercy of the state, and -- with all the hoo-haw about drugs, the budget for normal policing is stinted, and the municipio's security budget has been running a deficit for several years now.

For some muncipios, with tight budgets, this has meant hiring less than ideal officers (and police work is NOT considered a career choice by most) for the simple reason it pays crap.

Better training and better pay (and a better budgeting procedure) are not controversial. Putting all police under one roof is.

Anonymous said...

Mexican law enforcement has always been a topic that interests me.

For instance, you may have municipal and state police in a specific Mexican state. The state police officers mainly patrol the major highways and the municipal officers the cities. Who patrols the countryside? The Mexican Army and on the coast the Mexican Marines.

The military can pull you over just like a police officer can in Mexico.

I think with the type of population and people that Mexico serves, one centralized law enforcement agency may be a vast improvement over their current police/military police system.

Also if police are extremely and widely corruptible by the cartels then this will speed Mexico's transition into a true Narco-State.

If Mexico actually becomes a true Narco-State then they will most likely engage in some measure of hostilities against the United States. We would be forced to solve this problem by defeating their forces and reforming their government by force of arms.

I find the future of Mexico to be a very interesting topic.

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