The 36,000-strong Federal Police of Mexico are looking to recruit 4,000 new college graduates over the next two years at a starting salary of $1,000 a month, Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said.

He said in an interview with Radio Formula that the force now has 9,000 personnel with college degrees, including 2,000 alumni of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, the country's most prestigious educational institution.

UNAM's chancellor, Jose Narro, recently refused to collaborate with Garcia Luna's office to recruit graduates for the Federal Police, saying that the youths should "be open to many more choices and career possibilities."

College-educated recruits could go into intelligence work - if they studied accounting they could join the fight against money laundering, or if psychology they could help kidnap victims, but all could act as operational forces as well, the secretary said.

The starting salary for university graduates is 12,000 pesos (roughly $1,000) per month, Garcia Luna said, who was joined by President Felipe Calderon at Thursday's ceremony for Federal Police Day.

"In record time, a police institution has been structured with international standards, able to exercise superior force, with tactical and strategic intelligence, and with technical resources for carrying out scientific investigations," Garcia Luna said at the event.

Federal authorities had reported that most of Mexico's 200,000 municipal police were corrupted by organized crime, so in response a program was established to create 32 unified forces, one for each of the 31 states and Mexico City.

The armed forces and the Federal Police are the pillars of the militarized fight against drug cartels launched by Calderon when he took office in December 2006.

Many point to that strategy as being responsible for the violence that has taken 40,000 lives since the beginning of the Calderon administration, while the number of human-rights violations have also soared.