Police officers in Guanajuato are deserting the state force to join municipal forces that offer higher salaries.
Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo acknowledged that the goal of having a state police force with more than 14,000 officers has not been met due to the desertions.
“We haven’t reached the goal because . . . a lot of [state] officers have deserted and gone to municipal police forces . . . A large group went to enlist in Irapuato,” he said.
“I’m glad that a lot of officers have deserted because they’ve gone to municipal police forces. I’ve always said that security is built from the local level and if we want strong municipal police forces, we need fewer soldiers and fewer state police,” Rodríguez added.
Authorities in Irapuato, Guanajuato, León, Pénjamo and San Miguel de Allende are now paying new recruits up to 18,000 pesos (US $910) a month, the governor said, adding that he was hopeful that all municipalities in the state will increase police salaries.
“It’s important for municipal police forces to restore officers’ spirits, to pay officers better,” Rodríguez said.
He lamented that in Celaya, where extortion of business owners is a significant problem, local authorities are only planning to increase police salaries to 13,000 pesos (US $660).
“They must pay police in Celaya better in order to have good quality officers . . .” Rodríguez said.
After advocating for higher salaries for officers, the governor touted the quality of training they receive.
Rodríguez explained that new state police recruits undergo seven months of intensive preparation while their municipal counterparts spend three months in training before they hit the streets.
That training was crucial in avoiding the loss of police officers’ lives in two separate clashes with criminals in Villagrán and Celaya on Friday, he said.
However, 35 police have been killed in the line of duty in Guanajuato this year, according to the non-governmental organization Causa en Común, a figure that is higher than that of any other state.
Guanajuato has also been the most violent state in Mexico this year, recording 1,790 homicides to the end of August.