Merida police department has difficulty hiring qualified officers

Strict vetting requirements means vacancies unfilled

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A police office in Merida rides an electric scooter through the Centro. Photo: Courtesy

Merida, Yucatan — Although there are vacancies in the municipal police department, hiring police officers is “quite difficult,” said Chief Mario Arturo Romero Escalante.

Only 30 percent of applicants pass a test meant to gauge their trustworthiness.

Interviewed after the start of a December security operation, Romero Escalante said that in addition to the trust check, candidates must be accredited after taking 900 hour of training.

Increasingly strict standards have made finding qualified candidates difficult, he explained. Police corruption is a long-standing issue in Mexico, and agencies struggle to vet candidates who wish to carry a badge.

The municipal force has 435 uniformed officers, mainly in the first square of the city. State police are the dominant crime fighters elsewhere, and federal forces are also in place in the state.

Attaining trust is the most difficult requirement for aspiring municipal police, especially for those with no experience. “It is where they get stuck first,” he said.

Romero Escalante recalled that a couple of weeks ago he graduated a group of 26 cadets, out of 82 who registered.

“All we see in uniform have passed the test,” he said.

In 2016, 12 officers were discharged due to “lack of trust,” and in 2017, another five were removed for the same reason. It was not clear how trust is measured by this test.

Source: La Jornada Maya

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