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Fallen officers, who to blame?

2017 was the deadliest year for police officers in Mexico; local and state officers account for 84% of the victims
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
28/12/2017
08:52
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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The year about to end had some difficulties, especially concerning security. The crime rate in most Mexican states had an increase when compared to the previous year. One of the categories which took a turn for the worse was that of officers killed in the line of duty.

EL UNIVERSAL publishes today that 2017 was the year where more police officers were killed at a local, state, and Federal level, with 530 deaths – the highest number since 2011 when the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) counted 517 deaths. Local and state officers were the ones who bore the brunt since they account for 84% of the victims.

These numbers are the reflection of one of the main problems the country is currently facing: the inability of law enforcement bodies to effectively fight criminal groups.

Despite a training program was launched for law enforcement agents during the last years of the previous administration, training was not completed in most of the states and in others, it is just beginning to be implemented.

One of the main goals of the transformation of police task forces was the establishment of reliability instruments. Polygraph tests and toxicology reports were meant to be basic assurances yet they aren't always performed, which increases the probabilities of members criminal organizations infiltrating law enforcement institutions.

This is the moment when we find a double weakness: first, police officers become targets of criminal organizations and then society is left defenseless and standing in the middle of criminal groups fighting for control.

Lack of adequate training is another cause for the high levels of casualties seen in the police force. It's not enough to invest in better weapons, police cars, or bullet-proof vests. There are police officers who lack basic training regarding the risk situations they'll have to face every day.

This situation has created a vicious cycle. Because of the weaknesses of the police force, the armed forces have had to step in and provide assistance to local communities and states, however, state governments haven't fulfilled the commitment of providing a professional training to their officers.

Giving up on preparing a well-equipped police force earning a living wage and under constant training is a reprehensible decision. If someone is to be responsible for the fallen police offers, then that someone should be the states.

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