State and municipal police forces are short on numbers — 102,726 officers, to be precise, according to President López Obrador.
The president told reporters at his morning press conference yesterday that to meet recommended international standards for police numbers per capita, the forces require a total of 358,592 officers.
However, they currently have only 255,866, or 71% of the recommended number.
The states with the biggest police shortfalls are Veracruz, Zacatecas, Oaxaca and Durango, which only have 33%, 39%, 43% and 46%, respectively, of the number of officers they should have.
Guanajuato, which recorded more homicides in the first half of the year than any other state, has only 55% of the recommended number of officers.
In contrast, Mexico City has 48% more officers than it needs based on its population, while Tabasco and Quintana Roo exceed minimum recommended police numbers by 20% and 9.5% respectively.
López Obrador said the recruitment of more police in states and municipalities where there is a shortfall is urgent.
“There is a fund of 10 billion pesos [US $510 million] that will go to the states and municipalities and we want them to use it to hire more officers, and for the army and navy to assist their training,” he said.
The president reported that since his government took office last December, there have been 877 acts of aggression towards state and municipal police.
In the same eight-month period, 402,089 high-impact crimes – homicides, robberies, vehicle theft, rapes, acts of extortion and kidnappings – were recorded.
Robberies and vehicle theft make up 93% of that number, according to government figures, while there were almost 15,000 intentional homicides, just under 4,000 extortion cases, 691 kidnappings and 7,979 reports of rape.
The National Guard, the centerpiece of the government’s security strategy, is now deployed in 150 regions across the country, said Luis Rodríguez Bucio, commander of the new force.
He said 58,602 National Guard members are on active duty, mainly in the center and south of the country. The army and the navy have provided 56,191 members, while 2,411 Federal Police officers have so far joined the new security force.
Over 9,000 guardsmen are deployed to México state, while there are 3,628 in Michoacán, where violence has spiked this year largely as a result of a turf war between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Los Viagras crime gang.
More than 3,000 National Guardsmen are deployed to each of Jalisco, Oaxaca and Mexico City.
The government revealed yesterday that 5,818 would-be guardsmen were rejected due to obesity, poor physical condition, health problems or because they have tattoos.
López Obrador pointed out that the army and navy are supporting the National Guard in public security tasks, and expressed confidence that crime and violence will decline “very soon.”
“Every day we’re working to guarantee peace and tranquility in the country . . . We’re doing our part [and] we think that soon, very soon, things are going to change in terms of security, we’re going to pacify the country,” he said.
“. . . The fundamental thing is to deal with the reasons that cause violence, the fundamental thing is prevention, to not abandon the people, for there to be work, to not abandon the young people – that’s key, not turning our backs on young people. They should have the opportunity to study, the opportunity to work, and we can also strengthen a lot of values,” the president added.
López Obrador also addressed the concerns of human rights groups, among others, about the deployment of the National Guard.
“The fear, the legitimate concern of some that with the decision to create the National Guard, human rights were going to be violated – that’s guaranteed not to happen, not just because of the instruction they have to respect human rights but also because there is a mindset in that sense of the Defense Secretariat and the Navy Secretariat.”