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Police uniform-ity

15 September 2010

I’ve commented before on proposals to unify police forces under a single command (either nationally, as in with the French police), or at the state level.  Basically, I fail to see how this in itself makes officers more honest, or more efficient or anything other than putting a large budget in the hands of state governors (or the federal executive), rather than in the municipalities.  And, I see a value in local officers, familiar with their community:  the trade-off being they know the local narco, but they also know the local “good kid” who gets caught up in something wrong, the rich guy’s ne’er-do-well son, the village drunk and the other “characters” whose treatment by the police might not be equal, but is — in the eyes of their community — acceptable justice.

All that said, three items caught my attention late last night (when I finally had time to sit down and look my computer).  Milenio reports that the State of Durango’s legislature unanimously approved a bill said to be the first step towards a unified single state police agency.

“Under the Volcano” writes of a start — and I think a good one — towards a COORDINATED (not combined) police force for the 11 municipalities of greater Monterrey.

Mexico City had an unfortunate experience with its experiment with a coordinated police force (the June 2008 “News Divine” raid that ended up killing several teenagers and a officers), but that doesn’t mean coordinated departments aren’t a good idea.  The “News Divine” raid disaster may have been the result, not of coordinating police departments, but attempting to create a newsworthy first outing for “Unipol” against a “soft target” … underage drinking didn’t require a massive police raid, and it was the sort of action better suited for municipal (or, in Mexico City’s case, Delegacion, police).

Coordination doesn’t mean splashy raids… things like common training facilities and better communications and, what police show lingo calls “backup” make perfect sense, especially in larger, multi-jurisdictional urban areas.

At the same time, I caught a small item in SDPNoticias on the mass resignation of a police department.  Apparently, this was a labor dispute, and has nothing to do with threats or corruption (except maybe in the municipal budget), or any of the other things North of the Border commentators are likely to read into an event like this.  And I don’t imagine the Purépero, Michocán (population 1,094) is all that large to begin with.  As the SDPNoticias article notes, state police and the army (which I still say — and so does the Mexican Constitution — has absolutely no place in municipal police work).  Municipalities are supposed to provide their own security, but I can see where it might be a strain on the budget of a small rural community like Purépero.  Paying the officers, let alone providing training, vehicles, and equipment might be unrealistic for such a small community, and might make a combined force (with neighboring municipalities) a sensible alternative.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Frank permalink
    15 September 2010 3:53 pm

    “Apparently, this was a labor dispute, and has nothing to do with threats or corruption (except maybe in the municipal budget), or any of the other things North of the Border commentators are likely to read into an event like this.”

    *************************************

    Of course a mexican living south of the border would never assume there is corruption in a mexican police force.

  2. 16 September 2010 5:38 pm

    Uh, Frank… wtf is your hangup about this? Where was it said “corruption” (although not on the scale of say U.S. privately financed political elections or invading foreign nations) was NON-existent? What was said was this municipal police force’s resignation was over a benefits dispute.

  3. Ron Aames permalink
    20 September 2010 11:14 pm

    I happen to know, and have been a visitor to Purepero, Michoacan many times and first off, this is a small town with a populace of 25,000, not 1094, that can swell up to as many as 100,000 during the holidays and during town festivals. I know many people there and I can attest to the fact that the entire police force of 35-40 people turned in thier uniforms, guns, and badges because of threats to thier lives from a Zeta gang that has taken the town over. They blatantly drive around town brandishing thier automatic weapons and are involved in extortions, kidnappings, theft, and break-ins. The entire town is afraid for thier lives and lock themselves indoors by 8pm. Why the government has not been able to intervene is a good question, most likely pay-offs are being made! I was told that the Army and the Judicial Police did a sweep there about 2 weeks ago and took 40-50 people with them, but to everyones surprise, they were back in town a couple of days later! Unfortunately, I doubt that I will never again be a guest of the friendly people of Purepero!

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