Mexico City's singing policemen. Mexico City's singing policemen.

CDMX’s musical cops turn 50 in November

Mexico City police band shows public another side of the force

A major milestone is approaching for a musical group made up of Mexico City cops.

In November, Los Nuevos Tenientes de Anahuác will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the group’s formation.

Wielding musical instruments instead of weapons, the group plays a repertoire of songs that range from ranchero to bolero and banda. 

The group got its name from the fact that its members all held the rank of lieutenant when it was formed in 1967, along with where they lived: the Valley of Anahuác, more commonly known as the Valley of Mexico.

Ten officers make up the current incarnation, which was formed in 2000, whose goal is to show the cultural side of the city’s police force and counteract negative perceptions of police.

“Some people cry, others laugh, it makes them happy,” the group’s captain, Juan Antonio Chirino Rodríguez, told the newspaper El Universal.

“Seeing people’s faces [gives us] great satisfaction, we change their daily routine and manage to give them another image of the [police] secretariat. They see that we are human beings, that we are parents the same as they are and with music we create that link.”

With four albums behind it, the group recently broadened its appeal, achieving online success when a video of a performance outside the Palacio de Bellas Artes was viewed almost 300,000 times on Facebook.

While the current version of the group doesn’t carry out normal policing duties, 50 years ago it was a different story.

The original tenientes would rehearse for five or six hours a day but only after they had completed their shifts patrolling the streets of the Mexican capital.

Their hard work paid off and the band impressed high ranking officers of the police force with their prowess, so they set out on national and international tours.

One original member, Leopoldo Aranda Huerta, particularly remembers gigs the group played in Canada but also cites a concert in a Mexico City theater as one of the most memorable.

“There was a moment when the audience was totally silent listening to us when a young guy in the theater stood up and shouted, ‘Nobody likes you but you sing beautifully.’”

In 1985, the original group disbanded but Aranda stayed on and formed a new one, adding the word “nuevos” to their name.

The current line-up, together for 17 years, consider themselves a family.

While the group’s captain says that the “best performance we’ve had is the next one we’re going to do,” its members agree that retirement homes are among the best places to play because when residents hear their favorite songs, they remember experiences from the past and it leaves them feeling good.

Source: El Universal (sp)

Reader forum