In the midst of a violent drug war Mexican President Felipe Calderon fired crooked cops by the hundreds, and hired new ones — rigorously vetted and college educated — by the thousands. Salaries were doubled, new standards imposed, and officers were subjected to extensive background checks, says the Los Angeles Times. A trustworthy federal police force was to be one of the most important legacies of Calderon’s six-year term. Just months before he is to leave office in December, the president found himself apologizing “profoundly” this week for an incident in which federal police allegedly opened fire on an SUV with diplomatic plates, injuring two Americans.
A dozen federal police officers are being detained while the Mexican attorney general’s office investigates the incident. Many of the details remain unclear, including what may have motivated officers to open fire on the vehicle, which was traveling through dangerous countryside south of Mexico City. Since the incident, just two months after a shootout involving crooked federal officers that left three dead at the Mexico City airport, the denunciations of the police have been withering. For many here, whether the attackers turned out to be corrupt or just bumbling, Calderon’s new and improved federal police force is just more of the same.