How to Curb Police Corruption? Hire More Female Cops

In a new effort to crack down on the long tradition of officers accepting bribes, one Mexican state is only hiring female traffic cops

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Image: Mexico Female Traffic Police
Luis Acosta / Getty Images / AFP

A female police officer controls the traffic in the streets of Mexico City during a protest

Perhaps all that is needed to remedy corruption among Mexican police is a woman’s touch.

Officials in the nation’s central State of Mexico have hired hundreds of female officers and declared that only they may issue traffic violations. Why? Simple: You can trust ladies in uniform more than you can men, authorities say.

“Women are more trustworthy and take their oath of office more seriously,” Carlos Ortega Carpinteyro, police chief of Ecatepec, a suburb of Mexico City told NPR. “They don’t ask for or take bribes.”

The Mexico State governor Eruviel Ávila Villegas has launched a broad anti-corruption campaign, which is being advertised on billboards and on radio and television.

“Mexico State’s traffic police is only made up of women now,” says the announcer in one of the advertisements. “Remember, they are the only ones authorized to write you a ticket.”

But although officials are favoring female traffic cops, they seem to be doing so for seemingly sexist reasons.

“When a man is approached by a female cop, even though he is the stronger sex, he calms down and will listen to her,” Ortega says, without offering anything to back up his theory.

Currently, the women are only able to give verbal warnings to motorists who break traffic rules. Mexico State’s government hasn’t given the green light for full authority until all anti-corruption measures have been put in place, which none of the state agencies have done yet.

Drivers are still waiting to see if the new policy works, and at least one isn’t impressed. Diana Mendez told NPR that she had to pay a bribe to a female cop in order to prevent her car from being impounded. “I had to pay her the 200 pesos,” she said. “But let me tell you, it’s not a pleasant thing to do.”

But Maria Villa Fuerte says she wants a chance to prove that women can be honest cops. “That will be much better than just standing here in the middle of the street, blowing a whistle.”