HomeNewsAnalysisDoubts Emerge as Juarez Police Step Up, Feds Withdraw
ANALYSIS

Doubts Emerge as Juarez Police Step Up, Feds Withdraw

JUAREZ CARTEL / 3 OCT 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

As federal police withdraw from the troubled Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, a newly-published report paints an alarming picture of the municipal police force as underequipped and overburdened.

In July, Mexican officials announced that the nearly 5,500 Federal Police (PF) stationed in the city would begin to withdraw in September, leaving the local police to assume greater responsibility for security. However, according to a new report authored by the San Diego-based Trans-Border Institute in partnership with a number of local NGOs and academic institutions, Ciudad Juarez’s municipal police may not be entirely up to the job.

The report, entitled “A Comprehensive Diagnosis of the Municipal Police in Ciudad Juarez,” is based on a collection of survey responses from over 2,400 of the city’s 3,146 police officers, which amounts to one of the most comprehensive independent studies of a local police force in the country. The authors asked the policemen a number of questions regarding different aspects of their work, ranging from their degree of experience to their perceptions of corruption in the department.

Their responses were far from encouraging. One of the report’s main findings is that police in Juarez feel inadequately equipped to perform their job. More than half of the police surveyed (54 percent) said they lacked the equipment necessary to perform their job. Of the equipment they do have, half claimed that its quality was “bad” (33 percent) or “very bad” (17 percent). The report also portrays an inexperienced police force, with nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents having been in the job for less than three years.

In the years since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began his trademark crackdown on drug trafficking, Ciudad Juarez has earned a reputation as “the murder capital of the world” and “ground zero” for the country’s drug war. But things have changed for the violent border city this year. While Juarez is still one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, the city is on pace to be significantly less violent in 2011 than the previous year. In fact, in May the city recorded a two-year low in homicides.

Still, the Juarez municipal police have a history of corruption, and it will take more than a reduction in homicides to instill public faith in the force. Retired Colonel Julian Leyzaola, the city’s controversial new police commander, has tackled this problem by purging officers suspected of links to organized crime. Since taking office in March, Leyzaola has fired some 160 officers from the force over corruption allegations, and in June the police chief estimated that at least 400 more will be dismissed by the end of the year. According to him, nearly a quarter of the city’s police force is on the payroll of local drug cartels.

But perhaps the most overlooked problem that the police force faces in the coming months is the simple issue of competence. Unfortunately, the Trans-Border Institute study suggests that local police will face a steep learning curve with the withdrawal of the federal police.

Around 4,000 federal police are expected to vacate the city over the next five months, meaning that the city will see a 46 percent drop in police presence. This will mean that the city police will, come March, take on a much greater role in making arrests and investigating crimes. However, a look at the survey shows that 46 of respondents did not think that they had been given adequate training in the investigative duties of municipal police. What’s more, 36 percent disagreed with the statement that they had been trained in the proper treatment of a crime scene.

It should be noted that the city will not be entirely dependent on its municipal police. Around 1,500 federal special officers will remain in the city after the March deadline, and the Juarez Federal Police Command Center will remain open. Additionally, the armed forces will continue to conduct preventative patrols in the city, as they have for the past several years.

But as the city transfers more of its policing to local authorities, it remains to be seen how much energy and resources it will take to professionalize the police force.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GULF CARTEL / 23 JAN 2017

Mexico's Defense Secretary says the army will send 500 soldiers to Ciudad Mier in the embattled state of Tamaulipas…

DISPLACEMENT / 2 JUN 2021

The number of displaced people within Mexico has increased for the first time in three years, indicating that the country's…

GENDER AND CRIME / 5 AUG 2011

A Mexican task force for crimes against women is investigating the whereabouts of some 525 women and female adolescents in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…