Readers of the blog frequently contact me to ask about crime and personal safety here in Mexico. Until now, I have been answering these on an individual basis; however, I thought it was time to start dedicating some posts to the topic. I even created a new category called Safety and Security.
I decided to begin with a post about the police here in Mexico. After all, their level of effectiveness will have a direct impact on crime rates and overall safety.
New Standards to Fight Corruption
It is no secret that police corruption has been a long standing problem throughout Mexico. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear expats and tourists talk about being stopped by unscrupulous police officers looking for a bribe.
The good news is that the Mexican government has taken significant steps in recent years to identify and remove these bad apples from police agencies across the nation.
Exámenes de Control y Confianza
One of the most significant steps has been the creation of the Exámenes de Control Y Confianza (Control and Trust Testing) for both new hires and all existing police officers. The testing consists of five areas: psychological, medical, toxicology, polygraph and a socioeconomic investigation.
This is very similar to the hiring process used by many law enforcement agencies in the United States, with one major exception — Mexico now requires its officers to go through this every three years.
A skeptical person would probably say that this testing was just a ploy to appease the public and that the majority of officers would be “rubber stamped” as passing. Well, that skeptical person would be wrong. Actually, more than 113,000 officers failed, according to el Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública (SNSP).
To put it in a percentage, roughly 33% of the total number of officers who were tested, failed. State and municipal agencies across the country are currently in the process of replacing these officers with qualified personnel.
In case you missed it, Mexico made radical changes to its criminal justice system and the new system went into full effect in June of this year. Several of these changes can potentially impact expats who live in Mexico, so I will probably do a post on that topic sometime in the future. For now, I will only address the fact that the changes mandated additional training for every police officer in the country.
Officers receive mandatory training in the following areas:
- Evidence collection and crime scene processing
- Respect for human rights
- Defensive tactics
- Detention and handling of suspects
- Vehicle operations
On a local level, most agencies often conduct additional training for their officers throughout the year.
Let’s Wrap This Up
I commend Mexico for its efforts to improve not only its police forces, but the entire criminal justice system. The changes made so far have been positive and will benefit all of us who call Mexico our home.