MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday that only about 60% of Mexico’s federal police are passing physical and background exams to join the new National Guard, despite the fact they’re considered the elite of law enforcement personnel.
Federal police, who had better pay, training and education standards than other police, have protested recently against being reassigned to the militarized National Guard.
The police say they’re being ill-treated and will lose seniority and benefits. They have also objected to loss of pay and poorer living conditions, which the soldiers and marines who have joined the force are more used to.
López Obrador has accused federal police of being unfit and corrupt, and he said Tuesday that only 60% passed tests to join the new force, compared to 90% of military personnel. He said the police had failed to keep fit, though he acknowledged he himself, at age 65,suffers from high blood pressure.
The government said it has reached a deal to let federal officers retire or join other law enforcement agencies if they don’t want to go to the National Guard or are rejected.
But apparently, some parts of the federal police may survive. López Obrador said some would continue to patrol highways, for example.
One of the key differences is that federal police were sent out for limited periods to outlying states as needed to handle spurts in crime. They were given special bonuses and stayed at hotels.
The new National Guard members will live in the regions where they are based and won’t de given deployment bonuses.
Some observers have expressed concern that some officers might join criminal gangs after they leave the force. Defecting police and soldiers have long played a role as mid-level leaders and trainers of drug gangs in Mexico.