Data released by the National Statistics Institute (INEGI) reinforces why police reform is a central theme in Mexican politics.
According to a recent survey commissioned by INEGI, life is far from perfect for the 19,639 law enforcement officers in Jalisco, 8,402 of whom are state officers and 11,237 municipal.
Simply put, police officers don’t earn sufficient wages to fully support themselves or their dependents, which 90.3 percent of respondents of the survey say they have.
From the pool of responses, 28.5 percent admitted to maintaining secondary jobs for additional income, while only 43.1 percent earn enough money to save.
Mexican police officers earned an average of 9,933 pesos ($US490) a month in 2017. The figure is slightly higher in larger urban areas and more affluent municipalities such as Chapala, where officers make between 10,660 and 15,350 pesos a month, depending on their rank.
New administrations taking office this month have vowed to address the issue of salaries and restructure their various forces.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants to transform federal contingents into a National Guard, while Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro hopes to replace the Fuerza Unica Regional (FUR) – the state’s rapid response units – with a more advanced police infrastructure for both metro-area Guadalajara and the provinces.
But such adjustments don’t address the core of the problem: if police officers remain overworked and underpaid, they will always be susceptible to corruption.
Officers are also demanding safer working conditions based on how they are frequently targeted by organized crime groups. Earlier this month, six FUR officers were killed during a confrontation with unknown assailants in Jalisco’s La Huerta municipality.
Other statistics from the INEGI survey show that 81.5 percent of law enforcement officers in Jalisco are men while only 18.9 percent are women. Moreover, 15.4 percent only possess a basic education, 54.9 percent have secondary, and 29.7 percent have higher education.