Mexico City’s overweight cops — and more than half are classified as such — will be able to earn a cash bonus if they shed some kilos.
Through the Healthy Police program, the Mexico City Citizen Security Secretariat (SSC) will offer economic incentives to officers who improve their physical health in different ways, including weight loss.
Over the past five weeks, 1,820 officers who were candidates for the program went through a series of physical and medical tests to see if they qualify for the bonus of 10,000 pesos (US $500). Once the beneficiaries are chosen, the bonuses will be paid out over five months.
Alejandra Ramírez, subdirector of police research and development for the SSC, said that being in top physical shape is important for police to be able to do their jobs.
“On the street, police officers face a lot of stress, which pushes them towards having bad dietary habits,” she told the newspaper El Universal. “Sometimes it’s easier to buy a quesadilla or a torta than to find a place where you can eat a sit-down meal.”
The program has funding to cover 1,200 officers, and it is likely that applications will be reopened in the future.
Of Mexico City’s 4,279 police officers, 2,453 are overweight and 1,826 are obese.
Ramírez said the goal of the program is to encourage officers to develop healthy habits over the period during which they receive the bonus, and to help them improve their diets with the extra money.
She added that many of the officers who signed up for the program believed that they were overweight, but after going through medical tests were found to have a healthy body weight and were removed from eligibility.
“Psychological health is also fundamental,” said Ramírez. “It has a lot to do with the state they’re in, what kind of stress they’re in, whether or not they’ll be able to start another diet. It might be complicated, but we’ll be holding their hands through the process.”
Source: El Universal (sp)