11/30/14 (written by sramirez) — Mexico’s Secretary General of National Public Security (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SESNSP) recently released results of a study done to measure how Mexico’s 32 entities rank when comparing police officers’ passing rate on confidence exams (exámenes de confianza). The report analyzed pass/fail rates through the end of October 2014, and released the results in mid-November, which found that Veracruz, Sinaloa, and Baja California Sur place at the top of the ranking with the largest portion of municipal and state police having failed, meaning they are not apt or well-suited for public security functions.
With the lowest passing rate, 47.3% of Veracruz state police agents have failing marks, while 43.5% of municipal police failed. Sinaloa has the second lowest pass rate for State Police with 43.5% failing, and the third lowest municipal police rate with 39.4% failing. Meanwhile Baja California Sur swaps places with Sinaloa, ranking third lowest on State Police confidence exams with 36.7% of its agents testing poorly, and ranking second for municipal elements with 40.7%. In absolute numerical terms, however, CNN México reported “Veracruz had the majority of police examination failure with 4,273 agents testing poorly; Tabasco, with 2,114; Sinaloa, with 1,691; Jalisco, with 1,330, and Mexico City with 1,198.” For municipal institutional elements, “Jalisco had the most failed police with 3,076; Sinaloa followed with 2,060; Veracruz with 1,545; Guerrero with 1,315, and Hidalgo with 909 agents.” In total, explains El Universal, more than 18,000 police agents in all of Mexico are not qualified for their posts, 67% of which are geographically concentrated in only ten state entities. On the other hand, Coahuila had a 100% passing rate for both state and municipal police, while Colima and Campeche had a 100% passing rate for municipal police, and only one and eight state police failing grades, respectively. It is important to recognize, too, that of the 135,511 confidence exams taken into consideration throughout Mexico, 87% of police passed (117,334).
The SESNSP does not detail the number of police agents that are now in the process of being relocated to another force or post, being retrained, or being dismissed from the force altogether. The report also does not mention if actions were taken when police tested positive for illicit activity (e.g. drug use, ties to organized crime, etc.). Mexico’s Interior Minister, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, did acknowledge the difficulties that exist, however, when state and municipal police fail the confidence exams and ought to be removed from their posts, specifically noting the financial hardship it puts the force under to fill that position, as well as the manpower and resource vacancy it leaves. He then promised that this would not be an impediment to creating increasingly trustworthy police institutions.
The confidence control exams are an important quality control tool for the government to measure police capabilities. The exam, which is administered to agents every two years, takes into account drug testing, socioeconomic factors, polygraph tests, and psychological and medical exams. The tests are held periodically with the intention of verifying successful fulfillment of personality, ethical, socioeconomic, and health profiles. Furthermore, the test verifies that agents abstain from alcoholism, substance abuse, and ties with criminal organizations.
The overall trustworthiness of police institutions has been tested with recent events in Mexico, particularly the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero, and the fallout and ongoing protests; and the killing of three U.S. citizens in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, all of which the police have allegedly been involved. The subject of police reliability will continue to be at the forefront of the national discussion, especially with President Peña Nieto’s recent reform proposal to eliminate all municipal police forces in lieu of fortified state and federal police.