Reclaiming the City: Police Reform In Mexico City, 2002-2008

Rachel Jackson

When Andrés Manuel López Obrador became mayor of Mexico City at the end of 2000, a massive crime wave was sweeping the national capital. From 1995 to 1998, the city’s overall crime rate had nearly tripled. Aware that taking back the streets from criminals would require a new approach, López Obrador brought in an experienced political leader, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón, to head the Secretariat of Public Security of the Federal District. Together they introduced new systems that could document, map, and analyze crime and lead to more-efficient allocation of police resources and better preventive policing strategies. Ebrard also engaged a team to create Community Protection Units, improve police-citizen relationships, professionalize the police, and build a neighborhood police program. Despite abrupt leadership transitions at the public security secretariat, a decade later Mexico City had greater capacity to combat crime and greater political control over high-crime areas of the city, thereby laying the foundation for additional public security reforms.

Year of publication: 
Princeton Innovations for Successful Societies
Themes and sectors: 
Justice and security
Case story length: 
24 pages

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