Police Reform in Mexico: Informal Politics and the Challenge of Institutional Change

Police Reform in Mexico: Informal Politics and the Challenge of Institutional Change

Police Reform in Mexico: Informal Politics and the Challenge of Institutional Change

Police Reform in Mexico: Informal Politics and the Challenge of Institutional Change

Synopsis

Despite numerous policies and pledges to end the illegality and lack of professionalism that plague Mexican police departments, these efforts have, for the most part, failed. Why have the results of reforms in Mexico been largely unsuccessful? Daniel M. Sabet brings a political scientist's training and a consultant's experience to answer the question.

Excerpt

José Luis Montoya

In 1995, the National Action Party candidate (PAN—Partido Acción National) won the mayorship of Mexicali, Baja California. It was the first time since Baja California became a state in 1953 that Mexicali would be governed by a party other than the traditionally dominant Institutionalized Revolutionary Party (PRI—Partido Revolucionario Institutional). the new mayor, Eugenio Elorduy Walther, promised to usher in a period of reform, and the local police force was a major focus for the new administration. José Luis Montoya remembers it as an exciting time. in 1996, he graduated from the newly created municipal police academy as part of the first generation of cadets to receive formal police training in Mexicali. He remembers that they felt special: like they were going to be different from the police who had come before them. As the police force purchased new equipment and police cars and invested in training and education, there was a sense that the Mexicali police were on a path toward modernization and professionalism.

After seven years of service, in 2003, José Luis Montoya was promoted to the position of supervisor, roughly the equivalent of a sergeant in many U.S. police forces, and given command over twenty men. He remembers his promotion fondly as his first opportunity to do policing the way that it was supposed to be done: working with citizens and doing honest police work. Recognizing that corruption was commonplace in the department, he told his men of his . . .

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