Police in 18 San Luis Potosí municipalities lack training and don’t have the weapons they need to do their jobs effectively, according to the state public security minister.
“There are municipalities that don’t have accredited personnel, they don’t have weapons; there are 18 municipalities that we’re inviting to carry out the relevant procedures,” General Gúzmar Angel González Castillo told the newspaper El Sol de San Luis.
“They are very long procedures and perhaps that discourages the mayors,” he said, explaining that they have failed to begin them even though the state government has offered its support.
Officers in the 18 municipalities haven’t completed firearms training and local authorities haven’t purchased the weapons they need, González added. He also said that police in some municipalities mainly patrol on foot due to a lack of police vehicles.
The security minister didn’t name the 18 municipalities but indicated they are in different parts of the state. Some border “states with problems,” he said.
San Luis Potosí borders nine states including Mexico’s most violent in terms of total homicide numbers – Guanajuato – and the most violent in terms of murders per capita – Zacatecas. San Luis Potosí was the 16th most violent state in the first 10 months of the year in terms of sheer homicides with 650.
The San Luis Potosí government has deployed state police to municipalities that lack trained police and the weapons required to combat criminal groups, while soldiers and members of the National Guard also have a presence.
According to a report by the newspaper Milenio, both municipal and state police in San Luis Potosí are at the mercy of organized crime because they are poorly paid and don’t have sufficient training, vehicles, weapons, bulletproof vests and other equipment.
“With these shortcomings they have to confront organized crime [groups] … that have better weapons, bulletproof vests, better vehicles [and] ostentatious salaries in some cases,” the report said, adding that criminals also outnumber police.
“… We don’t have weapons, we don’t have anything … and people here do virtually whatever they want,” one municipal officer said.
In Villa Juárez, a municipality east of San Luis Potosí city with a population of about 3,500, there are 11 police officers and none is armed.
“It’s quite risky because you don’t have anything with which to defend yourself,” a policewoman told Milenio. “… We don’t have police cars, we don’t have uniforms,” she added.
As a result, officers use their own cars to patrol the streets of Villa Juárez and sometimes have to pay for gas out of their own pockets.
In the neighboring municipality of Cerritos, Aran Jazel Delgado, a policeman, was killed last week during a clash with criminals.
His partner, also a police officer, called on authorities to provide equipment to police to avoid more deaths as officers respond to a turf war between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.
“We lack weapons, magazines, vehicles, helmets, [bulletproof] vests, … we need everything,” she said.