Citizens group says 2,500 new police officers needed in Tijuana

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A municipal police officer walks past a prostitute in the North Zone of downtown Tijuana. In the city, the estimated number of drug addicts and small stores where drugs are sold have increased in recent years. (Washington Post)

TIJUANA (Border Report) — The head of a citizens’ watchdog group says the city of Tijuana’s police ranks are critically understaffed and in need of an influx of new officers.

The Citizens Council on Public Safety for Baja California is calling for the hiring of at least 2,500 sworn officers who are “better trained” and ready to patrol the streets.

“This is a reality, a need that has not been fulfilled by the city,” said Juan Manuel Hernández Niebla, president of the citizens group.

According to Hernández, national mandates call for three police officers per 1,000 residents, which translates into roughly 5,000 officers for Tijuana. The city has about half that number working.

“The recruiting process for new officers is stagnant; the number of new officers is null during this entire year,” Hernández. “We still need more and better officers, we need certified and capable people, and police morale is very low among current ranks.”

Hernández added that he would like to see officers better trained in the use of deadly force, apprehensions and public interaction.

“In general terms, we have not advanced when it comes to public safety,” he said.

He also disagreed with recent budget cuts that have eliminated funding for salary raises and for new equipment and training.

“The city council needs to restructure the budget for 2021, there’s still time to make it work,” Hernández said.

“What we’re asking is for funds to be used to fortify our neighborhoods by hiring and training new officers, but the problem is that money has already been allocated for other areas.”

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