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Policing and Politics in Latin America: When Law Enforcement Breaks the Law

Diego Esparza
Policing and Politics in Latin America: When Law Enforcement Breaks the Law
ISBN: 978-1-955055-50-5
ISBN: 978-1-955055-62-8
2022/173 pages/LC: 2022004051
"Provides a long-term view that is crucial to understanding where Latin American police institutions come from, how they have changed over time, and how long those transformations may take." —Hernán Flom, Journal of Latin American Studies

"Presents well-reasoned and logical arguments to support its contentions." —Paul Bleakley, International Criminal Justice Review

"An insightful book that should find a wide audience among scholars of crime, policing, security, state violence, and subnational politics." —Eduardo Moncada, Perspectives on Politics


Though police are supposed to serve and protect, they all too often rob and abuse. Why? And what can be done about it? That is the central puzzle addressed in this book.

Drawing on the disparate cases of Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, Diego Esparza analyzes why some countries' police forces are more corrupt than others and considers what policy initiatives can turn an abusive police force into one that works for its citizens. His findings, perhaps most notably, fundamentally challenge assumptions about the virtues of local control.


Diego Esparza is assistant professor of political science at the University of North Texas.


  • The Problem of Police Misconduct.
  • Chile: A Model for Latin America?
  • Colombia: Policing in Times of Civil Conflict.
  • Mexico: Reforming Police During a Drug War.
  • Overcoming the Sheep-Wolf-Dog Narrative.