Horseback police patrol Alameda Park

MEXICO CITY -- Forty police on horseback outfitted in the trappings of a traditional Mexican charro, or cowboy, are patrolling the 22-acre Alameda Park in the capital's historic district.

Distinguished by their wide-brimmed sombreros, spurs and sabres, the mounted cops are part of the city's efforts to reduce crime, boost its image and increase tourism.

The new police unit, which includes officers on some 30 horses, will speak English, French and German in addition to Spanish and will be versed in the history of the area.

Today, charros typically are wealthy business people and professionals who learn cowboy skills such as riding and roping for sport.

Mariachi musicians usually dress in charro costume. The police, however, can be distinguished by their badges and pistols.

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