Authorities in Mexico have agreed to prolong the country’s ongoing police reform process by a year, a decision that highlights the difficulties of effectively tackling endemic corruption in state and municipal forces.
After meeting to review the current police certification process, members of Mexico’s National Public Security Council decided to propose a legal reform that would postpone the deadline for finishing the process — set for October 31, 2013 — by another year, reported Cronica. They also agreed to establish a working group to reconsider the exams given to members of the force.
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Maria Elena Morera, the head of social organization Causa en Comun, reported that just 75 percent of security and justice personnel had been evaluated to date, with 130,247 yet to be reviewed (see below).
Members of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) criticized the current process, saying polygraph tests alone do not guarantee the integrity of an officer. They suggested reforms including monitoring officers who failed confidence tests, examining the origins of their assets, and reviewing their work history.
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The police evaluation process that began in 2009 with the objective of cleansing corrupt state and municipal police bodies has resulted in large numbers of officials being found unfit for duty. However, since the beginning, the process has been slow and contentious; with some claiming the central government’s goals were too lofty.
In regard to the proposed year-long delay, Mexico security analyst Alejandro Hope said the project of evaluating over half a million officers in the time period given was “terribly ambitious,” and the value of the controls themselves were “overestimated.” As InSight Crime has noted in the past, even a process that effectively purged current forces would not provide any guarantees for the future without permanent monitoring bodies put in place. Meanwhile, large-scale purges of police officers can be dangerous, as they may provide criminals with knowledgeable recruits.
Additionally, many states lack laws requiring police who fail confidence tests to be removed from the force, increasing the difficulty of enforcing the vetting process. A similar phenomenon has been seen in Honduras, where many officers who have failed testing remain on the force.
Another initiative aimed at combating police corruption, placing municipal officers under the control of state police in a national unified command, has also stalled under President Enrique Peña Nieto.