The top levels of the Honduran police command will undergo drug and polygraph testing, as the country's attempt to purge the security forces of corruption finally moves up a gear.
Controversial police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla, ten police commissioners, and 40 heads of regional forces and special units will all have their backgrounds checked this week. The series of tests include revising financial records: checking the reported assets and income, and looking for any suspicious transfers into the bank accounts of relatives or friends. Psychometric and toxicology examinations will also form part of the process, which is scheduled to be completed on Friday, reported AFP.
After testing the 51 officials occupying the most senior police positions, investigators will work downwards to examine another 298 officers in municipal forces, said the agency.
The Honduran Security Minister Arturo Corrales voluntarily presented himself for polygraph and drug testing in order to "lead by example," reported newspaper El Heraldo.
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The Honduran police reform program has floundered since it began around a year ago, failing to methodically test a large number of officers and failing to remove those who did not pass the exams.
Amidst these stalled reform efforts, Honduras' police force remains one of the most corrupt in Latin America. Allegations that officers including Bonilla have carried out extrajudicial killings have caused controversy in the United States, which continues to supply some security aid to the force. In an effort to sidestep concerns over whether the US was funding a police force accused of committing serious human rights violations, earlier this year the US said it would avoid working with Bonilla and the 20 people directly below his command -- the same group of people undergoing testing this week. Bonilla had previously refused to take a polygraph test.