The Mexican government is preparing to alter the nation's police forces radically, hoping to instill a trust the public has never had in them and to cut off a critical source of manpower for organized crime, the New York Times reports. The plan would all but do away with 2,200 local police departments and put their duties under a “unified command.” President Felipe Calderón faces mounting pressure from the U.S. and within Mexico to show progress in defeating the drug cartels.
Local police departments, filled with underpaid, undertrained officers, are heavily infiltrated by criminal organizations or under the thumb of mayors, often simply escorting local officials rather than patrolling the community, said a recent report by Mexico's Senate. Calderón's would eliminate what are now wide variations in police training, equipment, operations, and recruitment. The idea is that a single national standard would help the government field a more professional, cohesive force to work alongside its soldiers and agents fighting the drug war.