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Vietnam capital to reassign obese, rude traffic cops: paper

A policeman directs traffic on a street in Hanoi March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Kham
A policeman directs traffic on a street in Hanoi March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) - Pot-bellied, short, or abusive traffic policemen will be barred from working on the streets of Vietnam's capital and assigned desk jobs instead as Hanoi police try to clean up their unsavory image, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The city's traffic police are following the worst offenders closely and compiling lists of those to be reassigned. All police on traffic duty will be made to carry a book on the code of conduct to remind them how to behave, the official Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper said.

"Little officers, or those with too big a belly will be moved to work in offices instead of guiding traffic and settling violations," Colonel Dao Vinh Thang, head of the Hanoi Traffic Police Department, was quoted by Tien Phong as saying.

He said five teams of inspectors had been sent to monitor the behavior of police on the street. Thang could not be reached for additional comment.

Tempers often flare in the city of 7 million famous for constant streams of motorcycles and sometimes haphazard driving. Complaints have mounted about the conduct of traffic police, including allegations of corruption and abusive behavior.

The latest initiative follows the deployment in January of female traffic police, all part of a campaign to improve the image of the security forces.

Crackdowns on overweight policemen have taken place in Thailand, Pakistan, Britain, Indonesia and the Philippines in recent years. Several of those countries ordered officers to get fit and lose weight before they could return to work.

(Reporting by Hanoi Newsroom; Editing by Martin Petty and Ron Popeski)

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