GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The second most populated city in Mexico now has a force of carefully selected policewomen, better trained than the policemen, who are preventing attempts at corruption by drivers stopped for traffic offenses.
“The challenge was corruption and the authorities thought a good way to fight it was by renovating and strengthening the police force with women,” said Horacio Villaseñor, director general of institutional planning and professionalization at the Transport Secretariat of Jalisco state, whose capital is Guadalajara.
Villaseñor told EFE in an interview that while the process started out gradually, the number of complaints about objectionable cops has diminished considerably since women joined the force.
“The area of internal affairs at the Transport Secretariat has been getting fewer complaints since a year ago. And on social networks, people’s comments are basically congratulations. Folks are seeing it as a pretty good thing,” he said.
Authorities realized that technically “policewomen can do the same good work as men,” but detected that in terms of inspiring confidence, the women “did better than the men.”
In 2013 the state highway patrol in the Jalisco capital was just 7 percent women out of a total of 2,000 officers. But that minority percentage has now grown to 33 percent (600 traffic police) through two selection processes of between six and eight months divided in three stages.
The first is the search for profiles covering such parameters as weight, height, visual acuity, medical toxicology and physical fitness.
The second filter tests the ability to inspire confidence, while the third consists of training that lasts four months with a schedule of from seven to 19 hours daily, Monday through Saturday.
For police officer Mayra Guadalupe Gonzalez Montejano, the training was intense and adapted to the needs of the service, with such courses as physical education, police defense, driving emergency vehicles, guns and target practice, human rights and first aid.
“People have accepted us, but at first there did exist a fear they wouldn’t because we are women,” Gonzalez said.
For Lourdes Alicia Jimenez Chavez, a police officer age 27 and a single mother of three, what is important is serving the community.
Lizbeth Angelica Ramirez Torres, a police officer since last May, said “men believe that because we’re women, we lack the authority to give them orders, but one is simply applying the law,” and added that several drivers have tried to bribe her.
“We are opening the door and empowering women,” Villaseñor said, while explaining that policemen and policewomen now get equal pay.