There are more than a few municipalities that have a good police force, but they don’t make up even close to the majority. In most cases, municipal police forces are obviously not equipped, trained or paid sufficiently. Organized crime hasn’t only infiltrated corporations, but it has also put them into service. Federal operations remain secretive precisely because on repeated occasions there has been evidence that municipal agents were informants for the criminals that control the area.
Crime has evolved faster than security institutions. At the end of the last century, the emergence of this new facet of crime coincided with the fiscal crisis of the country. What remained obvious was the vulnerability of police forces at all three levels of government. The national security system was created, with the help of federal authorities and governors. The system was led by officials capable and committed to security. A new federal police corps was also formed, which soon showed good results in various fields, especially in fighting kidnapping.
In 2000, the new government didn’t continue to show the same vigor of the previous administration. Distrust, lack of experience, naiveté or confusion prevented the professionalization and modernization process to continue in security institutions. The new government promoted debatable administrative processes against those who headed some of the strategic areas in the previous government. Intelligence divisions were reduced under the naïve assumption that espionage has political objectives and motivations. Despite public revenues increasing thanks to the high oil prices, there was practically no investment to prepare state institutions for a challenges of this magnitude.
The deterioration of police forces and the crisis in the first fews days of his administration caused President Felipe Calderón to resort to military forces. Crime was winning the battle in many parts of the country. The president had to lead an effort to strengthen the country’s capabilities against organized crime. During President Calderón’s reign, intelligence institutions improved and departments linked with the public security were equipped with technology and authority. The legal framework was also modified to provide more powers to investigation and law enforcement authorities.
What should remain clear is that now the situation would have been unmanageable if it hadn’t been for those difficult decisions. Unfortunately, the necessary coordination between government orders doesn’t always exist.
Almost six years later, Congress is discussing a constitutional reform for creating the new Unified Command police model. This model is necessary because the municipal police forces have authority over the local government and not the other way around. The change is urgent because military forces should concentrate on their own tasks and stop adding to the insufficiency of security forces under civil command.
When Calderón proposed it, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) didn’t approve the Unified Command and now it’s the National Action Party (PAN) that rejects it. In the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), some may- ors don’t accept it either, but one of PRD’s most important figures, Gov. Graco Ramírez, is one of the most dedicated promoters of the Unified Command.
The moment to make way for the passing of the Unified Command has arrived. Interior Secretary Miguel Án- gel Osorio Chong’s position is reasonable in contemplating a legal space for exceptions, such as when authorities show, prove and certify their capabilities.
However, the municipal police’s diagnostics reveal that institutional fragility is associated with a lack of in- vestments in security. The solution implies considerably more spending and a different perspective so that the re- sources actually arrive to their destination and contribute to the goal of having better security institutions, including the police.
Without a doubt, the main benefit of fixing such a situation is the so-called recovery of the social fabric and in particular, the rescue of values at all levels of authority.
The reality is that a good police force is crucial to improve security, just like efficient law enforcement and justice administration institutions. The recount of the last few decades tells us that we can’t let down our guard and that the police, the government and the society need to work to make the dream of a country with laws and justice a reality.