Mexican State's Anti-Corruption Plan: Hire Female Traffic Cops | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Mexican State's Anti-Corruption Plan: Hire Female Traffic Cops

Play associated audio

In the central State of Mexico, officials are trying a new approach to fight corruption.

Authorities have hired hundreds of women and put them in charge of issuing all traffic violations. They're trying to crack down on the famous mordida, or bribe — a favorite among Mexico's crooked traffic cops.

Authorities say women are more trustworthy and less corrupt than men. But the plan has run into a few snags.

Choosing Female Cops

About a dozen women in black uniforms and caps stand at attention. There's a broad neon orange stripe, the color of the new transit police, emblazoned across their chests. Most have matching orange eye shadow and lipstick on, too.

As their commander shouts orders, the women take a quick march around the large concrete esplanade of Ecatepec, the teeming municipality just outside Mexico City.

The all-woman force is part of the Mexico State governor's crusade against corruption, and it's widely advertised on highway billboards, radio and TV.

"Mexico State's traffic police is only made up of women now," says the announcer in one ad, translated here into English. "Remember, they are the only ones authorized to write you a ticket."

"Together we will stop corruption," ends the ad.

Ecatepec Police Chief Carlos Ortega Carpinteyro says women are much better suited for traffic duty than men because people respect them more.

"When a man is approached by a female cop, even though he is the stronger sex, he calms down and will listen to her," he says.

And, he says, "women are more trustworthy and take their oath of office more seriously. They don't ask for or take bribes."

Ortega has only 60 women on his transit force now. He says all have been thoroughly vetted — psychologically and economically — and all are free of drugs. He'd like to hire more.

Has he had trouble recruiting because women in Mexico don't typically consider police work for a career? Is finding childcare a problem because of the long hours?

No, he says, the biggest challenge is finding a woman that portrays a good image. "We get too many short and fat ones," he says. "We need tall women that render respect when out in the streets."

Shortcomings So Far

For now, the women out directing traffic can only issue verbal warnings. They haven't yet been authorized to actually issue tickets.

The state says it won't give the green light to the female force until their local police units put all required anti-corruption safeguards in place. To date none of the agencies have done so, a state official says. The official wryly says it's really hard for police officers to give up their old ways.

Mexico State's governor is so upset about the cops' insolence he's ordered a halt to all ticket-writing in the state, hoping the loss of income will push local officers into compliance.

Meanwhile, driver Diana Mendez isn't optimistic that female cops are the answer to Mexico's corruption problem. She says a woman officer stopped her just a few months ago and threatened to impound Mendez's car unless she paid a bribe.

"I had to pay her the 200 pesos," she says. "But let me tell you, it's not a pleasant thing to do." She says she still feels guilty about contributing to corruption.

Cop Maria Villa Fuerte, who directs traffic on a busy thoroughfare, hopes she'll be given the opportunity to show people that cops can be honest.

Of course, as soon as they give her the opportunity, she adds. And, she says, "that will be much better than just standing here in the middle of the street, blowing a whistle."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Handmade Signs From Homeless People Lead To Art, Understanding

Artist Willie Baronet is on a 24-city, 31-day trek across the country this month, buying handmade signs from homeless people. He says the project has changed the way he views homelessness.
NPR

You'll Be Maaaaaaaad About Goat If You Follow This Chef's Recipe

Goat — it's the other red meat! And it's easy to mess up. Kenyan-born Kevin Onyona reveals the secrets to a tender yet hearty stew: You've got to break down that meat, and you've got to give it love.
WAMU 88.5

McDonnell Corruption Trial Begins Monday

It's a first for the Commonwealth of Virginia on Monday, as Bob McDonnell becomes the first governor of Old Dominion to face potential jail time.

NPR

What It's Like To Own Your Very Own Harrier Jump Jet

The Harrier Jump Jet is known for vertical take-offs and landings. It also has an accident-prone track record, but that didn't dissuade one pilot from buying his dream plane.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.