A study conducted by the Mexican organization Common Cause has found that police forces in Mexico are working under unsatisfactory conditions with low pay and with little prospects of rewards.
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Common Cause, an anti-corruption and police watchdog group, found that police are underpaid where half of all local police forces throughout the country are paid less than US$525 per month. Roughly 70 percent of polled police officers said they have never had a raise, even after being on the force for several years.
The study went on to conclude that 61 percent of police officers don’t know how to obtain a raise while 36 percent polled thought that raises are given based on recommendations from others on the force rather than work merit. Nearly 90 percent have never received any type of reward or recognition for their work.
In addition to low pay, police personnel are expected to buy their own work materials. Forty one percent have had to pay for their own boots, 38 percent have paid for their uniforms and 32 percent have had to buy their own paper to write up criminal reports.
Marcela Figueroa, an investigator for the Common Cause study, said police personnel simply don’t know their rights and aren’t working under conditions to advance them.
“Being on the police force isn’t a career in this country … Police don’t know their rights or their work obligations and that’s horrible.”
Many police, polled in all parts of the country, said their superiors have mandated them to do work outside of policing, such as unclogging city sewers.
Roughly 16 percent of those polled said they are victims of sexual abuse on the job. Moreover, 40 percent said that corruption exists in their police force.
Laura Carrera Lugo, coordinator for the Development of Federal Police, agreed with the investigator’s findings and said the government is trying to reverse the situation.
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Common Cause found that police forces are poorly trained and often receive two weeks to six months of formal training, rather than the recommended one year. The organizations said this reflects the government’s attempt to ramp up the number of active police amidst the national level of increased violence and crime, putting quantity over quality. Yet, underfunded and understaffed police forces have been a problem in Mexico well prior to the increase in crime over the past several years, the study also found.
Security and crime specialist Elena Azaola Garrido said police forces around the country need to “respond to the needs of their police and provide the conditions necessary for them to do their jobs."
Presidential candidate Luis Ernesto Derbez agrees that there’s a correlation between Mexico’s high crime rate and the poorly-paid police forces. He claimed that as president, he would pay the police approximately US$1,410 per month.