Assessing Attitudes Toward Municipal Police in Mexico During Democratic Times: A Case Study

Saúl Sandoval Perea

Abstract

One of the key roles of States is to act as primary authorities over their territories and societies to establish order and provide security. Nevertheless, the processes of establishing and maintaining order and social control are complex. As such, different groups and institutions are required to interact effectively to encourage collective behavior. Among the different State agents, the police are directly in charge of fighting crime as well as maintaining social control. Their role in the development of democratic political systems is indeed significant. Police officers’ varying degrees of respect for civil, political, and human rights affect the tone of the relationship between the public and the government. Furthermore, the performance of the police in combating crime and violence can serve as an indicator of government competence. Today, the acceptance of democratic governance around the world has achieved an appeal seldom seen in modern history, yet the spread of democracy has not necessarily allowed all States to establish or maintain order and provide social control. This situation has been especially true for emerging and transitional democracies, as manifested through increasing problems of insecurity. Mexico is one such case of a nascent democracy facing significant insecurity challenges. In an attempt to learn more about the phenomenon of insecurity, this study examines citizens’ perceptions of the Mexican police at a municipal level. By using different approaches of criminal justice as well as a cross-sectional survey design, the study finds that police integrity, political legitimacy, and the perception of escalating neighborhood crime significantly affect varying attitudes toward the police. According to the results, Mexican police administrators and policymakers in general ought to place special attention on issues of integrity and political legitimacy to improve security and other areas of public policy in a country that is currently entering the democratic stage

Keywords

Police, citizen insecurity, integrity, political legitimacy, democracy.

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