Monday, March 7, 2011
Gone With The Wind
Marisol Valles Garcia was fired today. She was a twenty year old college student who was fed up with the drugs, violence, and murders in her town of Praxedis G. Guerrero, and so she offered to become the townships Chief of Police in order to take a stand and to enforce the law. Although she never had any experience in police work, she was a student at University studying criminology. The person that held the job before her was shot to death in July 2009 and nobody else really wanted the position. A year ago, little Marisol was hailed as the bravest woman in Mexico as she pinned on her badge. Today, she was fired because she was running for her life and there was no commentary on if she were doing it bravely or not.
Aside from the obvious reference to brave Sir Robin, I do believe that Marisol was indeed brave for stepping up to that position and offering to police her community. However, she was vastly under qualified and under skilled for such a job and her idealism overshadowed her sense of reality. Policing in Praxedis G. Guerrero is more akin to a combat tour in Iraq than the urbane setting of Mayberry.
At first, Marisol was fired up because she was going to change the world. She instituted a community policing scheme, adding a feel good touch to the force, but feeling good to drug runners is about murdering police officers. With the example of another young, female Chief of Police in a neighboring community being kidnapped and presumed murdered, I guess it finally hit her that she could end up in a pine box taking a dirt nap as well. So she ran.
This leaves the Mayor of Praxedis G. Guerrero as the chief law enforcement officer yet again, and I am certain that he is now a very nervous man considering that his own predecessor was murdered along with his son. The problem with the drug cartels is that there are two of them competing for lone road through the area which makes the town a no man's land for the poor bastards living there. Fear is a common companion for the residents and the police are just as afraid as the public, and with good reason. Thus, I arrive at the obvious conclusion:
Marisol never stood a snowballs chance in hell.
Not because she was young, not because of her gender, not because of her geographic location, and not because of her Mexican citizenship. She was doomed to failure because of her gross inexperience and that of her command. The sad truth is that none of them, not one, has been trained to deal with this kind of fight.
The law is nothing without the use of force to back it up. Consider, if there were no police to use force to bring the public into compliance then what would be the necessary end result? Anarchy, which is what you have right now in Praxedis G. Guerrero. If you have ever seen footage of combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan you have a pretty good ides about policing in the border towns of Mexico right now.
Marisol Valles Garcia is a good looking and intelligent woman, but she is no combat soldier. Thus her community policing plans were doomed to failure as soon as she began. This is because she needs to think about taking and holding real estate, not making friends with the community. Unless and until she can establish the supremacy of the law in her home town, she is just spitting in the wind.
I have worked in similar situations and have even had a contract placed on my life for enforcing the drug laws. I know where Chief Valles has been because I walked a mile in her shoes. But I also had the benefit of training, my fellow officers were trained, and we knew the realities of the situation before we deployed on scene. We understood that we needed to dominate the area or we would be eaten alive. Marisol had the drive, but not the training and skill set to accomplish that feat and neither do her fellow officers.
I have given a lot of thought to the plight of Praxedis G. Guerrero and its citizens and wondered how I would have handled that responsibility. It is likely that there are moles within the department, it is likely that the drug cartels have an ongoing intelligence operation against the government and the police. It is also likely that they possess detailed files on members of the department, their families, and their daily habits. It is also very likely that they keep operatives active within the area that can be called on for fast strikes against targets of opportunity and last, but not least, they are far better equipped and trained than the local constabulary. Throw a rookie into that and all you get back is hamburger. Poor Marisol was walking into a buzz saw and didn't even know it.
The local police don't wear uniforms because the town is too poor to provide them. They use hand me down weapons from the Mexican military. They only have one patrol vehicle to patrol a community of 8,500 farmers and two drug cartels who are willing to kill anybody for access to the highway that runs through the jurisdiction. Face it, Praxedis G. Guerrero is on the ropes and about to go down for the count and nobody wants to do what needs to be done to solve the problem.
I know that because Chief Marisol Valles would never have been thrown to the wolves otherwise. They used her like toilet paper and then discarded her when she ran. You see, female police are popular in Mexico because the drug runners don't just shoot them in the face like they do the males. Oh sure, they do occasionally kidnap and kill a few to make a point, like the female Police Chief of the neighboring town, but that's rare. Sort of. Hence, young Marisol was looking to add more females to her department, but then the drug cartels finally told her to run or die and she ran. I don't blame her.
If she had known the truth about what she had been facing, had the skill set and training to do something about it and then ran, this would be a different story and I would be calling her a coward. But running for your life when you don't have the benefit of training, experience, and the skills to put them into use is survival and not cowardice. The town was desperate, she was young and idealistic and stepped up without knowing what she was getting into until it was too late. More officers of the law have died that way than enough and I won't blame her for avoiding that fate. She's young and has a small child and a husband. That is a lot to live for. What of the citizens of that community?
They have lived in fear before and they will again. Unless and until someone steps up who is trained, skilled, and experienced in the enforcement of law in high risk scenarios, but that is only half of the problem. The other half of the problem is that the government must have had enough and is willing to put an end to it. When that happens, the days of the drug cartels will be over because there will be no place to hide.
The United States is making the same mistakes that Mexico did and people along the American borders are living in fear. Drug cartels have set up shop on American soil and murder anybody that gets close regardless of their law enforcement affiliation. Murders, kidnapping, and drugs now run freely along the Southern border. When Bill Jordan was a border patrol officer back in the day, he said that gunfire along the border was a daily occurrence and that when it was heard it was assumed that a border patrol agent was delivering another lesson in American law enforcement to an offender. Today, Bill Jordon and his fellow border patrol officers would have been rounded up and imprisoned for their frequent use of force and that is why we are losing control of our Southern border.
I suggest that the case of Marisol Valles Garcia be examined by American citizens with great interest. Because the nightmare that she just left is about to become ours.