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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Juarez police department desperate for officers

By ABC-7 Reporter Marissa Monroy - October 19, 2008

El Paso, TX -- More than 300 Juarez police officers were fired Friday after failing a series of psychological, background and drug tests. The move was part of a campaign to root out corruption within the force. "The pay is very little," said Said Belazquez, a Juarez resident. "Maybe there is a lot of corruption because of that." More than 900 police officers have been fired, resigned or retired leaving the force with less than half the officers it had in January. Now officials say the department is offering new recruits free houses and higher pay to help fill the void. "I wouldn't be a police officer in Mexico for nothing, not even for thousands of dollars," said Jose Angel Sifuentes. In addition to incentives, the department is also looking outside of Juarez for new officers. City officials have sent recruiters to other states in Mexico, including Chiapas, Veracruz and Jalisco. The Juarez police department is also hoping to enlist the help of former soldiers. "They say, 'Oh, they're going to bring soldiers and it's going to be secure, but in reality, there's no security," said one woman who refused to be identified. "They don't do anything." Others said the Juarez military simply cannot be trusted. "They said you can't bribe the military, but that's not true," Sifuentes said. The recent firings leave just 800 police officers to take care of the city's escalating violence, which has already claimed the lives of 1,100 people.

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