In 2010, the government, private businesses, and local universities in the northern Mexico state of Nuevo León forged an unusual alliance to design and implement sweeping law-enforcement reforms in a challenging context. At the time, powerful drug cartels were fighting increasingly bitter and bloody wars to control their turf—which intimidated an existing police service already hampered by low pay, weak morale, corruption, and disorganization. Public confidence in the state’s ability to maintain order had evaporated. During the next five years, the public–private partnership oversaw the creation of an entirely new police service that, in tandem with other reforms, significantly strengthened the state’s capacity to ensure public safety and helped rebuild public confidence.
Patrick Signoret drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in March and April 2018 and on earlier research carried out by Ariana Markowitz and Alejandra Rangel Smith in October 2014. New York University’s Marron Institute helped support Alejandra Rangel Smith’s participation. Case published July 2018.