Troubles Vex Mexico Crime-Fighting Force

The Wall Street Journal, 9/9/12

The incidents are an embarrassing setback for Mr. Calderón, who has hailed the creation of the Federal Police as the future of Mexican policing and one of his biggest accomplishments since taking power in 2006. His government created the force three years ago out of a smaller, existing agency and it was meant to be a trustworthy counterbalance to Mexico’s many local and state police…

The agency relied heavily on the use of lie detector tests to vet new recruits. But many police commanders felt the Mexican officials in charge of the polygraph tests weren’t well enough trained, said Daniel Sabet, a Georgetown University researcher who was invited by the federal police to evaluate its disciplinary system last year…

While vetting new recruits is important, the police also lack a robust internal-affairs department, said Eric L. Olson, who has studied the Mexican Federal Police at the Washington-based think tank Wilson Center.

Mr. Olsen says that as of last year, roughly 95% of the internal investigations under way at the agency involved administrative issues like officers not wearing uniforms or showing up to work. The agency had recently set up a program to catch corrupt cops through sting operations, but had only employed it twice—in both cases to catch police who were asking for minor bribes on roads outside of the industrial hub of Monterrey, Mr. Olson said.

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