Hero…or human? A Tijuana story about fighting crime


Tijuana police carImage by Willem van Bergen via Flickr

The New York Times ran a story this weekend about Alberto Capella, the city of Tijuana’s brash top law enforcement official who survived an attack by gunmen on his house last year by repelling them with gunfire before he even started the job.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary of Public Security, Capella had been a rabble-rousing activist who led marches to bring attention to public security problems. Journalists gravitated to him for that perfect quote to counterbalance the latest government official line. Well, now Capella is part of that government and one of his quotes caught my eye as the angle less explored:

“I know what the society thinks about police because I once thought the same thing,” he said. “Now that I’m on the other side, I’m seeing the other side, the sacrifices that police make.”

Being on the other side seems to have given him some perspective. While I have little doubt that Capella’s intentions are good, the power of the criminal underworld here places limits on what a person can do. Telling that story can be extremely difficult, but we all want to believe in a hero and people like him represent hope to the rest of us. For more on why it’s so hard to be a hero in Mexican law enforcement, read this indepth story about Mexicali police officer Jose Luis Montoya.

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