Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto submitted a bill to Congress that would replace the country's most corrupt municipal police forces in the states of Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Jalisco and Michoacan with state police within two years.
This comes as the country has been roiled by the events which started in September, when a drug cartel-infiltrated municipal police force in Iguala detained 43 students and turned them over to a criminal gang, which reportedly shot, then burned and disposed of the students, who are still missing. City officials including the mayor, his wife and police officers have ben arrested. In the northern border state of Tamaulipas, many municipal police forces have been effectively dissolved already due to their inability to fight drug cartels. In Michoacan, civilian vigilantes were invited to join a rural state police force which has taken over security duties.
Analysts and experts have warned state police are not always more trustworthy; a report by Common Cause found more state police failed background or vetting tests than municipal police. The plan is also expensive.
Nuevo Leon, a northern border state with the best record of replacing its police force, had to recruit from out of state and pay and house police officers well.
"It requires a financial capacity that most state governments don't have," said analyst Mentor Tijerina, in a column in the Reforma newspaper.
The proposal would allow states to absorb or re-hire some municipal officers, though analysts say it's easier to start new.
Peña Nieto's proposal must be approved by both houses of Congress and a majority of state legislatures.
The bill pointed out many of Mexico's small municipalities don't even have local police. A majority of Mexico's municipal police forces have an average of twelve officers. The majority have only a middle-school education and about 40 percent make less than 4,600 pesos ($325) a month.
--The Associated Press