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Tijuana Police Officers Claim Corruption In The Force

A recent survey of Tijuana police officers shows more than 80 percent of them acknowledge some level of corruption in their department.

The University of San Diego’s Justice in Mexico project shared the survey's findings on Friday, a month after releasing the results in Mexico.

Project researchers teamed up with think tanks on both sides of the border to conduct what they say is the largest study ever done on the Tijuana Police Department.

Among their findings:

• 80 percent report corruption; of those, one in four say it is extreme.

• 40 percent say corruption exists at all levels of the force.

• 28 percent say it exists in leadership.

The director of Justice in Mexico, David Shirk, says the corruption problem may be tied to the way promotions and raises are determined in the department.

Thirty-two percent of the officers said connections, rather than merit, determine whether someone moves up in the ranks. Shirk said the lack of a merit-based system hurts morale and may be contributing to corruption.

"It suggests policing in Tijuana is not a professional endeavor," he said.

The researchers also found salaries are relatively low, even for Tijuana. The most well-paid police officers reported getting the equivalent of less than $8,000 a year, yet 61 percent said they have to buy their own equipment, including bullets, boots and other parts of their uniform.

The report said Tijuana officers are also twice as likely to have a college degree than those in other Mexican cities that the University of San Diego has studied, such as Guadalajara or Juarez.

Most of the officers also reported seeing U.S. police forces as a model.

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