More police are needed in Guanajuato but municipal authorities are having little success attracting new recruits to their forces.
Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo said in December that between 2012 and 2018, the number of officers in Guanajuato’s 46 municipal police forces fell from 8,500 to 5,700.
Dismissals, resignations and the murder of police have all contributed to the depletion of officer numbers.
Faced with the difficult task of making up for the shortfall, many municipal governments have improved the pay and benefits they offer.
In Irapuato, authorities have tried to lure recruits by offering the chance to win land in police raffles, providing financial assistance to buy vehicles, guaranteeing access to private hospitals and granting two life insurance policies.
The city government also offers the highest municipal police salaries in the state – 15,000 pesos (US $790) a month for a low-ranking officer – but yet it still has a shortage of around 250 police. There are currently just 36 cadets undertaking training in the Irapuato police academy.
Rodríguez, who was sworn in as governor in September, announced in the first week of December that the government would invest 600 million pesos (US $31.5 million) to purchase new equipment for police and to improve their training and salaries.
To address the police shortage, National Action Party (PAN) lawmaker José Guadalupe Vera Hernández said the state government wants minimum police salaries to be at least 14,000 pesos a month with the opportunity to earn up to 40,000 pesos (US $2,100) in higher-ranking positions.
In some municipalities, such as Cuerámaro, Huanímaro and Doctor Mora, officers currently earn less than 5,000 pesos (US $260) a month.
The need for more officers is underscored by the fact that last year was the most violent in Guanajuato’s history.
There were 2,367 culpable homicides between January and November 2018, according to statistics from the National Public Security System.
In the same period, 64 police officers were killed. In the two previous years, 2017 and 2016, there were just 10 and 12 murders of police respectively.
Much of the violence is believed to be linked to petroleum pipeline theft, drug trafficking and highway theft.
Despite the deteriorating security situation in Guanajuato and with it, increased risks for police officers, the mayor of Irapuato, Ricardo Ortiz, believes that higher salaries in the municipality he governs has helped to retain police officers and attract new ones, although he conceded more are still needed.
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lawmaker Héctor Hugo Varela said that conditions for municipal police also need to be improved to retain and attract officers.
He said they are sometimes forced to work shifts of 48 to 72 hours due to a lack of personnel, adding that municipal police must also be provided with the technology, equipment and training they need to do their jobs properly.
Source: El Universal (sp)