Thursday, April 1, 2010

Major Story: Federal Police Take Over Juarez

The Secretary of Government (Gobernacion) issued a communique yesterday, announcing that as of today the Federal Police will be the agency in charge of public security in Cd. Juarez. This marks a major departure from the norm, inasmuch as public security at the local level throughout Mexico has been the responsibility of municipal police, who exercise only preventive, not investigative, powers. The army will remain in Cd. Juarez, "assisting civilian recruiting, training, and vetting the municipal police force..." Further, the presence of the army in Juarez will not be at the expense of the municipality, as it has been for the past two years, but at the expense of the federal government.

In practical terms this means there will be 4500 federal police throughout Juarez, divided into nine sections and 155 quadrants. Two thousand eight hundred municipal police and 200 state police will act under the coordination of the federal police. The shift in authority between the armed forces and federal police will be gradual. "Joint Operation Chihuahua" thus changed a few weeks ago into "Coordinated Operation Chihuahua," and now this gives way to "We Are All Juarez: Let's Take Back Our City."

The Emergency and Rapid Response Center (CERI) will gradually be placed under the command of federal police.

As I understand it, this is the first time in Mexican history that federal police have been deployed to exercise the functions of municipal police, not quite replacing them, but clearly designated as the responsible agent for municipal public security. The idea was floated by President Calderon earlier in the year. It seems likely constitutional issues may arise from this change, inasmuch as the Mexican Constitution clearly places municipal police forces in charge of local public security, and limits their powers to that of a "preventive" force, which means it serves as a deterrent to crime, without investigative powers.


Anonymous said...

Who has responsibility for investigation? Who proscutes?

Jose Z. Garcia said...

Investigation is done by state and federal police, and, in extreme cases like Cd. Juarez in the past two years, by the army. Homicides, extortion, robbery--the stuff that has most people in Juarez worried--is the responsibility of the state police. Drug trafficking is the responsibility of the federal government. The federal government, however, can intervene in a drug-related homicide, for example, which sometimes leads to jurisdictional conflict. Prosecution is carried out by federal and state agents. Municipal police have no authority to make an arrest. They can detain suspects, for cause, but the arrest must be made by the state or federal government.

Anonymous said...

Juarez needs Gov Richardson and his cronies to go help them. He loves the media and I bet they will even write a song about him.

Anonymous said...

For all you Richardson haters, please do not forget he was elected by a wide margin. Where were you all during the last 8 years when Richardson was having free reign of NM. Dr Garcia has been the sole voice to stand up to the mighty Richardson Machine, and because of that I bet life as not been easy for Dr Garcia. Si Se Puede !