This column was inspired by emails sent to me by friends whose genuine concern for the improvement of police service in our country has brought them to places like Tightsqueeze, Virginia; Dorking, Surrey; and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

I don’t know of any cosmic connection between police work and places with strange names, but none of the emails I received came from friends in Panorama City, Los

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Angeles or Utopia, Texas. It’s always Intercourse, Pennsylvania; Condom, France; Batman, Turkey; Hornytown, North Carolina; or Satan’s Kingdom, Vermont. But wait. The more you run through the list, the more you actually see the connection. Go figure.

To digress further, if you want to receive emails from practically anywhere in the world regarding police work, try writing an article about nightsticks and have some newspaper publish it online with your email address at the bottom, like what this paper does. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Back to the topic. Many of the letter senders are particularly concerned about overweight policemen. One asked me to check out a news item online about solving the obesity problem in the police service and suggested that our officials consider replicating the program here. The article was about paying fat cops to trim down.

It’s true. It’s actually not hard to imagine a police official telling his subordinates: “Since no dietary program works for you fat, ugly, beer-guzzling goliaths, we’ll try this one. I’ll buy those excess fats. How about that?” Policemen: “Yeah!”

If you still think I’m making this up, the place is in Mexico. Residents of the central Mexican city of Aguascalientes woke up one morning to find the streets teeming with cops the size of Mexico’s Eschrichtius robustus, which is Latin for “cops as huge as gray whales”. After much finger-pointing, City officials agreed that the ones responsible for the gigantic problem were sugary soft drinks and fatty hamburgers, which, according to the report, were increasingly becoming part of the national diet.

Alarmed that the problem had literally grown out of proportion, and annoyed by the cop-gray whale analogy, the officials scrambled for possible solutions. Proposals to ban soft drinks and hamburgers were promptly shot down because you can’t touch something that is fast becoming part of national diet. Forget liposuction too because it is counterproductive. It doesn’t require effort on the part of the policemen to sweat out for money.

The plan most favored by the officials was to pay each fat cop 100 pesos for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) that he loses. At the current exchange rate of $1 to 10.56 MXN (Mexican peso), that’s about $9.47 per kilogram. If we convert that to Philippine peso (at the current exchange rate of $1 to P41.65), that’s about P394.47 for every kilogram, or P179.30 per pound of slimy fat.

That means a cop with, say, five excess pounds can already earn P896.50. And because the PNP is generous to its personnel, we can round it off to P1,000 for every five pounds. The fatter you go, the more money you make. And considering how easy it is to gain back weight, that’s big business for our cops, especially those whose wives or husbands, and children are cops too.

If it is done in Mexico, it can be done here in the Philippines, too. There’s always more than just boxing between these two countries.