- Title: MEXICO: Police clowns tell children crime is no joke
- Date: 22nd January 2011
- Summary: CHILDREN WATCHING CLOWN SHOW POLICE 'CLOWNS' INTERACTING WITH CHILDREN CHILDREN WAVING AT CAMERA
- Embargoed: 6th February 2011 12:00
- Location: Mexico, Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Police,Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA56EL7IH7JCQN5U2XQO8JM9SHK
- Story Text: Amid jokes and laughter, two police officers dressed as clowns are trying to instill values in children in Mexico's richest city Monterrey, where drug cartels are fighting a vicious turf war and recruiting teenage assassins almost every day.
Officers Tomas and Alexandro put on makeup to portray Bombon Dulcito ("Little Sweetie") and Trompetillas ("the Trumpeter"), an unusual sight in a country where police are constantly accused of corruption and infiltration by gangs.
Mexico is immersed in a fight against drug cartels in which traffickers have taken advantage of a lack of jobs to urge young people to join their ranks with the offer of easy money. Last month, soldiers captured a 14-year-old suspected of killing at least seven people.
"I think it's of value for us to visit children. We don't carry weapons. Our weapons are balloons, jokes, laughter. Colleagues in operation are working in the present day, in today's situation, trying to provide security for the population. "We are focusing on future generations, i.e. children, so that this generation eliminates what is of no use, so that we emerge with a healthier society," said Bombon Dulcito, a police officer in the San Nicolas municipality of Monterrey, part the city 140 miles (225 kms) from Texas.
Occasionally, in their journey between the schools and police station, the police clowns also arrest people committing minor crimes and raising eyebrows along the way.
Bombon and Trompetillas set aside their guns and official uniforms two years ago for flashier outfits, wigs and enormous shoes when they realized that children didn't pay attention during school visits and, in some cases, were afraid of them.
Now, with the clowns' make-up and comedy performances, children say are not scared when they hear the squad car siren nearing and the officers parking in front of their school.
"It's important that children, through clowns, learn about having values. It's important because children learn from example and above all, most (children) are afraid of policemen with everything that is happening now. It's a way for them (children) to get closer to policemen if they (policemen) are dressed as clowns," said school director, Gloria Araiza.
Monterrey, where income per head is double Mexico's average, has been sucked into the country's fight against drug gangs, with more than 70 people killed in drug violence in the city and its environs since New Year's Day.
Across Mexico, more than 34,000 people have died in drug violence since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon sent the military to fight the cartels. The government says the violence is a signal that the gangs are weakening.
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