Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To Arm or Not to Arm Traffic Police in Juarez

The Mexican defense department has taken weapons assigned to traffic police (part of the municipal police force) away from them temporarily, ostensibly to verify registration numbers. But many traffic police officers believe the measure was taken because of recent attacks by organized criminal gangs against traffic police, in which weapons were taken from officers.

Recent attacks against traffic police assigned to guard bus terminals have resulted in injuries to officers and in several instances officers under attack have been relieved of their weapons. On July 27, for example, eight officers were attacked, and all were relieved of their weapons. This, many traffic officers believe, is the real reason their guns have been taken away: to prevent criminal gangs from attacking traffic police to obtain guns. Diario (click here) interviewed several traffic officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, who asserted that the registration checks occur once or twice a year but in previous checks officers were simply asked to present themselves at an office to verify the registration number on their weapon. The guns never left their possession, as has happened now. Some of the officers feel much more vulnerable without their weapons, and hope they will get them back soon.

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