Book 'em, Danno

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The poet Philip Larkin famously declared, "Books are a load of crap," but for Luis Sanchez, mayor of Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, books are the key to better police work and crime-solving. All 1,100 of the city's flatfoots will be required to read one book a month. The reading list ranges from light (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince) to heavy (Carlos Fuentes' Aura), to physically heavy (Cervantes' Don Quixote) to job-related (the crime fiction of Paco Ignacio Taibo II).

Sanchez believes that too many cops are rude to citizens and that by reading, they will become better mannered, more communicative and thus more welcome in the neighborhoods they patrol.

"Reading makes us better people, more sensitive, more able to express ourselves," said Sanchez, a bibliophile who belongs to the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. "Better persons give better service."

Police will be tested and graded on their reading each month — as they will be on six traditional proficiency standards, such as physical fitness, ethics and arrests, the mayor said.

"The majority of us are confused because other mayors have come and made promises that haven't been fulfilled," patrolman Jose Luis Avila objects. But before you scoff, The Los Angeles Times points out that under Sanchez, the crime rate in the felony-ridden Mexico City suburb has dropped by 20 percent. (The city's former chief of police is now doing hard time after being convicted of heading a local drug syndicate).

My favorite quote from this Guardian story:

Mexico's police officers are often portrayed in the media as ineffective good-for-nothings who munch tacos on corners and demand bribes for minor offences.

What the Guardian is afraid to report: Mexico's civilians are often portrayed in the media as swift, fast-talking mice who wear sombreros and rescue their lazy, siesta-addled amigos from predatory cats.

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  1. Mexico’s police officers are often portrayed in the media as ineffective good-for-nothings who munch tacos on corners and demand bribes for minor offences.

    Judging from my experience with Mexican police officers, this description is spot on. Bribing a Mexican cop to get of a “curfew” violation (whether there actually was a curfew in force I can’t say) was very common when I lived in Guanajuato about a decade ago.

  2. I once got caught pissing in an alley in Rosarito. I gave the cop a dollar and walked away.
    I was very drunk.

  3. The only story about a Mexican cop run-in I ever heard ended with some Americans I know who were arrested having to bribe the cops with all the money they had in order to get out of jail.

  4. “What the Guardian is afraid to report: Mexico’s civilians are often portrayed in the media as swift, fast-talking mice who wear sombreros and rescue their lazy, siesta-addled amigos from predatory cats.”

    Ariva! Ariva! Undulay!

  5. The poet Philip Larkin famously declared, “Books are a load of crap,”

    ‘90% of everything is crap’
    Sturgeon’s Law

  6. My dad and some other men were stopped for some imagined traffic infraction while in Mexico. Dad said he just leaned across the driver and handed a $10 bill to the policeman. Just paid the fine on the spot.

  7. But before you scoff, The Los Angeles Times points out that under Sanchez, the crime rate in the felony-ridden Mexico City suburb has dropped by 20 percent. (The city’s former chief of police is now doing hard time after being convicted of heading a local drug syndicate).

    Damn these two-variable experiments! I just can’t decide which led to the 20% decrease in crime! Was it the books or firing the drug-lord cief of police?

  8. My few interactions with Mexican police were quite pleasant. They always knew exactly where the farmacia was and even which ones had the best prices.

  9. However, I was always more wary of the packs of wild dogs that roamed the streets than I was of the police. I got in habit of carrying rocks in my pocket and carrying a sturdy walking stick ward them off.

  10. Hey! Speedy deserves more respect, he is not simply a bad caricature. He is a hero! Plus Slow Poke may have been lazy and sleepy, but he had a big Gun. In addition, it is rare that the Speedy cartoons are shown at all these days. Time to update……

  11. What the Guardian is afraid to report: Mexico’s civilians are often portrayed in the media as swift, fast-talking mice who wear sombreros and rescue their lazy, siesta-addled amigos from predatory cats.

    That’s freakin’ hilarious.

  12. However, I was always more wary of the packs of wild dogs that roamed the streets than I was of the police. I got in habit of carrying rocks in my pocket and carrying a sturdy walking stick ward them off.

    That sounds disturbingly like parts of East Cleveland, where I work nearby…

  13. I was always more wary of the packs of wild dogs that roamed the streets than I was of the police.

    I haven’t noticed this. Presumably the bordertowns all shoot their dogs or paint them to look like zebras.

  14. smacky,

    I’ve always heard that Cleveland is a pit. 🙂

    Pavel,

    Oddly enough, I’ve never been – on the ground at least – within fifty miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. I recall having wild dogs follow me and friends at night in Chapultepec park in Mexico City (a great place to visit at day on a weekend).

  15. Gary,

    I literally can no longer park on the street by my workplace anymore for fear that I will be attacked by wild dogs. One of my coworkers suggested carrying a sturdy umbrella or a lead pipe filled with concrete.

  16. The Cleveland Wild Dogs. Sounds like a box lacrosse team.

  17. Philip Larkin, what a crazy nut.

  18. smacky – I would suggest a handgun, personally. A .45 will probably do more to put the dogs down in their tracks than a 9, but everyone has their preference.

  19. R C Dean,

    thanks for the suggestion, but although Ohio does have a concealed carry law now, my workplace forbids concealed carry on its premesis. Plus, I would probably panic and throw the gun at the dogs if I were being attacked, anyway.

  20. smacky,

    Fuck the umbrella. Having had to deal with a few dogs, the lead pipe sounds about right. You also have to be quite aggressive towards the dogs. Yell, growl, run after them, etc. Basically you want to try to scare the piss out of them. If they come after you, bash their fucking brains in.

    R.C. Dean,

    I perfer to carry a .357; around here when you go walking you have to worry about the random bear.

  21. Fuck the umbrella. Having had to deal with a few dogs, the lead pipe sounds about right. You also have to be quite aggressive towards the dogs. Yell, growl, run after them, etc. Basically you want to try to scare the piss out of them. If they come after you, bash their fucking brains in.

    This is not what I had in mind when, during my interview, I was told my job requirements would vary…[sigh].

  22. smacky,

    Well, maybe you can ask your employer to hire some people to round up the stray dogs and take them to the pound to be euthanized.*

    *I am just waiting for a PETA, ALF, Sea Shepherd, etc., supporter to break into the conversation and call me a equivalent of Josef Mengele.

  23. smacky,

    Incidentally, it was organizations like PETA which put me on my journey away from “liberalism.”

  24. Smacky, how about mace/pepper spray, like a mailman carries?

  25. poco,

    You want to put the dog down, not annoy it. 🙂

  26. “poco,

    You want to put the dog down…”

    Dog: Growl, snarl, rowf!

    Gary: Your momma is so ugly…gaaaahhhhh!!!

  27. Dawg, your momma so fat, she trip on 4th Avenue and fall down on 10th Avenue.

    Dawg, your momma so fat, I have to roll over three times to get offa her.

    Thank you. I’m here all week until somebody I offend do a drive-by on my ass.

  28. “Sanchez believes that too many cops are rude to citizens and that by reading, they will become better mannered, more communicative and thus more welcome in the neighborhoods they patrol.”

    Or at least they’ll be more eloquently rude.

  29. “By what rationale, pray tell, do you hurl your vehicle forward at such excessive velocity? Rocketing off to extinguish a conflagration, perhaps? Oh! So no such mission impels you? Of a certainty, then, I shall issue you a citation.”

  30. Hey, maybe we can get los perros salvajes to lean on those predatory cats.

    Wild dogs are not just a problem in poverty-stricken areas. On eastern Long Island, circa 1972, the animal control authorities had to cope with packs that raided the poultry farms. People from the city would rent a summer place on the East End, then, under pressure from their kids or on some other whim, they’d get a dog. Eventually summer ended, and the doofuses remembered that their apartment building in the city didn’t allow pets, or they just didn’t want to keep a dog there. So, since “leaving Rover with a farmer” is a story to tell the kids, and actually taking the pooch to a vet or the Humane Society to be put down would exhibit the foresight these dopes plainly didn’t have, many a summer dog was just dumped somewhere among the scrub pine.

    This problem even affects the Rockaways, in the New York borough of Queens.

    http://www.rockawave.com/News/2003/0516/Front_Page/024.html

    I had schoolmates whose dads ran duck farms who told scary tales of dog packs killing dozens of birds per attack.

    Kevin

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