Gun Control That Works
Well, sort of. Apparently, so many Tijuana cops are involved with violent drug-trafficking gangs that the whole force has temporarily been stripped of its arms. The Los Angeles Times reports:
Tijuana, a sprawling metropolis of about 1.5 million people, was bustling as usual Friday, and there were no signs of social unrest or public disorder two days after more than 3,500 soldiers and federal agents starting arriving as part of Operation Tijuana.
Members of the 2,300-strong municipal police force were ordered by the military to turn in their weapons to see whether any are linked with homicides and other crimes. More than 2,000 weapons, most of them 9 mm handguns, but also some automatic weapons and shotguns, are being inspected.
Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon said in an interview that he had feared putting unarmed police at risk and had ordered them off the streets Thursday after receiving assurances from the general in charge of Operation Tijuana, Hector Sanchez Gutierrez, that his troops would maintain order.
The 18 hours without municipal police went without any major incidents, though there were some complaints of no law enforcement response to a few minor traffic accidents. And at the jail holding facility in the red light district, Municipal Judge Oscar Gonzalez Valdez said he had freed some detainees—mostly drinking-related offenders—because there were no transit police to take them to the main jail across the city.
Municipal police may get their weapons back within two weeks, Tijuana officials say, but many residents aren't demanding urgent action.
I'm not wild for the idea of troops acting as police, but I understand the frustrations that led there. Of course, if the military took over patrol duties permanently, the soldiers would soon face the same corrupting incentives as the ordinary police. That's how the drug war works.
The best quote in the story comes from a 55-year-old Tijuanan: "I bet the number of assaults goes down until the police get their guns back. I feel pretty safe right now."