Monday, August 9, 2010

Mutiny Fallout: 248 Officers Will Be Investigated for Insubordination

Diario today notes (click here)that the public has been "astonished" to hear that the 248 federal police officers who rebelled against their apparently corrupt superiors may face charges of insubordination. In a press release from the Federal Public Security Department, it was announced that four commanding officers of the Third Group of federal police in Juarez have been transferred to Mexico City to face an investigation by the internal affairs department of the federal police. Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz today not only confirmed this but he also added that the PGR, the national prosecutor's office (similar to the Justice Department) will also conduct an investigation.

But the press release also indicated that the 248 agents may face punishment for having made their protest public without using "appropriate channels" to bring to public light the corruption of the police.

Other notes in Diario today suggest that some sectors of the population would like to see the federal police leave, and bring back the armed forces. This, according to Mayor Reyes, is not going to happen.

This is a delicate situation for the federal police, for many reasons. If, as many people seem to think is likely, the four commanders were indeed committing some of the crimes they were accused of, then a good question is, why did it take a full fledged mutiny, including a moment in which federal police were pointing loaded weapons at each other, to bring this to light? Did it not begin (as I understand it from reading the Diario account) precisely because officer Desid ended up being arrested, the mutineers believed, for refusing to obey orders to commit illegal acts? That is, because "appropriate channels" were not working? Shouldn't the mutineers be rewarded for their actions, instead of punished? On the other hand, ignoring the insubordination of the mutineers could be devastating for federal police command structures in the future, and if left unpunished, it might provoke federal agents to mutiny for inappropriate reasons, say complaints about working conditions or pay, which did in fact surface during this past mutiny, along with much more serious accusations. A serious investigation is needed, by a credible outside team with no vested interest, to understand factually just what the circumstances were. Fixing the "appropriate channels" may be a necessary step, but if police corruption is as widespread as some people think, it is difficult to imagine fixing things if the appropriate channels are part of the problem.

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