Mexico's municipal police

A recent opinion poll in Mexico reveals an embarrassing lack of public trust in security forces, exemplifying yet again how institutional failures risk boosting support for problematic responses to insecurity such as the militarization of citizen safety initiatives and the formation of self-defense movements.

The Social Studies and Public Opinion Center (Centro de Estudios Sociales y de Opinión Pública - CESOP) of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies has published a survey in which Mexico's marines and armed forces were the highest-rated public security institutions, while municipal police forces ranked the lowest.

Two-thirds of respondents said they believe that police are very or reasonably "controlled by organized crime," while over 36 percent believe that authorities participate in criminal activities. A quarter of those surveyed affirmed they would not report a crime due to lack of trust in authorities.

Moreover, 56 percent of those surveyed thought that corruption was the main affliction of police bodies, while over 66 percent stated there was little to no chance of ending corruption in the country.

When asked what strategy would best improve citizen trust in the police, a plurality of those surveyed -- 29 percent -- chose militarization, 28 percent opted for vetting procedures, and over a fifth of people preferred a total overhaul of the police force.

Over half of people approved of Mexican citizens forming self-defense groups. However, these civilian forces received a lower vote of confidence than state forces when it came to providing local security.

InSight Crime Analysis

As similar surveys have indicated in the past, Mexican authorities -- and particularly the local police -- suffer from a severe lack of public trust. This erosion of confidence has been exacerbated by extreme cases of police collusion with organized crime and widespread incompetence.

There have been serious consequences to the reputation of the police compared to their military counterparts, which despite also seeing their approval ratings drop over the past decade, remain the public's preferred force for combating organized crime. This has helped prop up the highly militarized internal security strategy consolidated by President Felipe Calderón in 2006, which has been linked to a host of human rights abuses and generally lackluster results in terms of improving security.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

Another result of official abuses and public distrust of security institutions is, as the recent survey shows, heightened support for civilians taking security matters into their own hands. As Mexico's organized crime landscape descends into chaos and its homicide rate spirals out of control, it is likely that the country will see more self-defense groups gain in strength, a prospect that could generate problems of its own in the long term.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...