Monday, June 20, 2011

Problems on Both Sides of the Border

Given Mexico's problems in vetting its police offices, I thought this nugget in a Houston Chronicle piece about corruption in the Border Patrol was interesting:
Only 22 percent of new hires are subjected to lie detector tests amid expanding enlistments and shortages of polygraph specialists. The agency is expanding the number of polygraphers from 35 to 52, but it will be at least 2013 before it can polygraph all new hires.

Efforts also lag in identifying compromised law enforcement officers already within the ranks. An estimated 60 percent of veteran law enforcement officers initially fail periodic lie detector tests required every five years to verify honesty and backgrounds, officials said. Nearly 15,200 officers who have failed the routine polygraphs await follow-up background checks.

Of course, the US doesn't have the levels of corruption that Mexico does, neither in the Border Patrol nor in any other federal agency, so it's not quite the same. In the US, it's as though the entire agency structure tilts toward honesty, so removing one barrier to corruption doesn't have such a big impact. In Mexico, many agencies naturally tilt toward corruption, and the hope is that the vetting programs can help push the agencies toward a more honest paradigm. Which is a bit more ambitious and significant.

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