Policewomen | Mexico | Living in Mexico


Not so long ago, police work was the exclusive domain of men. In many communities, it still is. But in San Miguel de Allende and other progressive places, we are seeing the appearance of policewomen. Nor are they restricted to low level positions as traficantes. This woman, armed as she is with an automatic pistol, is a member of the preventative police, a position of considerable responsibility and one that required her to graduate from the police academy.


In this macho society, where women in general still expect to be subservient to their husbands, how is it that women join the police forces? In fact, resistance to this idea still is fierce. A police officer may not be paid much, but it's a position that pays regularly, on time, and comes with substantial benefits. And members of the police force often can influence who vacant positions go to, so they aren't happy about women taking some of the available slots. It means that cousin Ramiro isn't going to get that sinecure his uncle promised him.

Of course, there's the usual chauvinism about the capacity of women to use force. Well, take another look at the picture. This substantial woman with body armor and sidearm surely has more capacity for imposing order than any overweight, cigarette-smoking 20-year veteran whose main source of exercise is holding out his hand for mordida.

So there has to be a compelling reason to push enrollment of women through all that resistance. That reason is the battle against corruption.

Policemen enter the force expecting to augment their (admittedly low) salaries by extorting hapless citizens. I believe that a majority of cops in Mexico still do this. I have personally been subjected to high-pressure attempts by traficantes to extract money from me, although I have never been stopped for an actual traffic violation.

For some reason, policewomen universally refuse to engage in this odious practice. So city officials trying to clean up corruption in the police forces have no more powerful tool than to hire female officers. The higher the percentage of women, the lower the number of cops on the take.

Much bribery is initiated by citizens who want to avoid the hassles of Mexico's arcane justice system. Many police accept bribes but do not otherwise solicit them. Female officers never do. In San Miguel, I notice that many male officers no longer accept bribes freely offered by traffic violators.

The maxim that women are a civilizing force was never more true than on Mexican police forces.