Monday, June 4, 2012

Jalisco's Stunted Police Reform

New piece here. Highlights:
As El Occidental reported, an unidentified criminal group posted an advertisement on the Internet targeting the hundreds of Jalisco police officers who have failed the vetting tests. Kicking off with the punchy intro “Have you been fired?” and mimicking the recruiting tactics of a legitimate firm, the ad, which was later pulled, promised benefits and training for officers who went to work for the gang.

Roughly 900 police, out of a total of nearly 24,000, failed Jalisco’s vetting program, which monitors officers’ assets and applies drug tests. However, because of concerns that criminals' attempts to recruit the fired police could lead to a rash of new gunmen operating around the state, the process of firing the officers deemed unfit for duty has been postponed.


These examples demonstrate that, while police reform is certainly a good thing in the long term, in the short term it can actually play into the hands of illicit actors -- both transnational drug traffickers and local petty criminals. Even when the transition does not provide obvious opportunities to criminal groups, they are still capable of slowing the pace of reform; El Universal reported in 2010 that the violence in Chihuahua, which was one of the first states to embrace the oral trial system, forced the government to delay the implementation of several reform measures.


Mexfiles said...

It seems that for political reasons, the "police reforms" were designed for quick fixes, and not to resolve chronic problems. With Mexico City, where there have been genuine reforms within the police, those that didn't measure up to new standards weren't just pushed out, but eased into less sensitive positions. A bad copper in an administrative office isn't nearly as bribe-worthy as the one on the beat... nor in a position to know what's going on on the street.

pc said...

"It seems that for political reasons, the "police reforms" were designed for quick fixes, and not to resolve chronic problems."

I don't think I go along with that premise. I think it's just phenomenally difficult to pull this stuff off. I don't know the details of Mexico City's reforms, but I don't think it has made the capital city police a beacon for rest of the nation, and the path you describe is not without its drawbacks.