The Mexican state of Morelos will become the first state to implement a centralized “single command” police force, in a test case for the security reforms of new President Enrique Peña Nieto.
On February 6, the south-central state’s governor and 33 mayors signed an agreement to develop a “mando unico,” — a unified police command that will combine the state and municipal forces, El Economista reported.
Morelos’ new police force will initially be composed of 1,000 specially trained and certified officers, who will receive benefits such as housing. They will be better armed than their predecessors, according to the authorities.
Recruits will have to meet specific criteria; they have to be under 35, have training in operations, and undergo confidence tests.
The unit will be divided into five sections to perform distinct functions, including prevention, response and investigation.
The state will be the first to implement this element of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s security plan, which also includes the creation of a national gendarmerie and the dismantling of the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP).
InSight Crime Analysis:
The idea of creating a unified police command is not new in Mexico. Although it is a key component of the administration’s new security policy, it was also pushed under the administration of Peña Nieto’s predecessor, President Felipe Calderon.
Whether such a policy will make a real impact on Mexico’s security problems is questionable. Mexico’s local police forces are notoriously corrupt, but creating a new force will not solve the probem unless it tackles the root causes of corruption — low paid and poorly equipped police officers, who are frequently outnumbered by criminals.
Certain aspects of the make-up of the new force, including confidence tests for new recruits and the focus on benefits and better equipment, suggest the authorities are at least aware of these issues.
In addition, as InSight Crime has noted previously, the increasingly local modus operandi of many of Mexico’s main criminal groups means a more centralized police force may be less, not more, efficent in tackling organized crime.