Published: Jul 6, 2009
In Mexico incidents of drug cartel-fueled homicide, kidnappings and
violence are increasingly common, as are political promises of reforming
the corrupt police forces.
But, reforming law enforcement and
effectively combating the drug cartels is not going to work without both
a “top-down” and “grass-roots” effort, according to two University of
As part of their continuing research,
criminology professors Tony LaRose and Sean Maddan found overwhelmingly
that Mexican citizens feel combating the drug cartels should be Mexican
law enforcement’s top priority. However, due to the pervasiveness of
corruption in law enforcement, and the feeble, misguided attempts at
reform, Mexico has ushered in an era of no public trust in law
enforcement and pervasive violence “with no consequence.”
essence, Mexico needs its own professional era in which government
authorities and citizens substantively address the past entrenchment of
institutional corruption,” at both the federal and municipal levels, the
researchers state in the report.
Mexico and its citizens are clamoring for solutions. LaRose and Maddan’s answer is three-fold:
- Purge police agencies of rampant corruption;
- Instill important civil service reforms in hiring and training, and;
- Show a willingness to combat the violence and disorder wrought by the flow of drugs through Mexico.
“They’ve done the right thing in the short term, bringing in the
military and declaring martial law,” LaRose said. “But, they’ve got to
stop the violence, get control of the threatened area, and reform the
law enforcement agencies.”
The researchers used Italy as an
example, which capitalized on strong political and social will to
aggressively combat organized crime. LaRose and Maddan see this
political and social will missing in Mexico.
particularly bribes and drug trafficker influence, permeate Mexican
policing and are fueled, at least in part, by a political and social
culture that participates and implicitly and explicitly accepts corrupt
LaRose and Maddan based their conclusions on
interviews about past and current police reforms with Mexican academics,
journalists, politicians and current and former law enforcement
personnel (both from the U.S. and Mexico).
solidly stated that the current era of policing is ineffective and the
reforms have had little or no effect on policing practices.
will not be easy and may call for what one citizen called a ‘complete
deconstruction of the police, its reconstruction, and redefine their
relationship with society,’” the researchers said.
LaRose and Maddan’s research was published in the February 2009 issue of Police Practice and Research: An International Journal.