Dalian is considering abolishing its mounted policewomen unit, a pet project of former mayor Bo Xilai, in what can be seen as a move to further distance the city further from the disgraced bureaucrat.
Debate over the fate of the municipal all-women mounted police force arose after a former Dalian police officer said running the near two-decade-old force was a “waste of taxpayers' money”, the China Youth Daily reported on Sunday.
Zhao Ming, the retired police officer, said keeping the unit was akin to squandering resources from other services already in dire need. He added the mounted unit was “unpractical” because of the high costs to care for the horses. The jobs could be done on bicycles or motorcycles, he said.
Posting on the Dalian municipal government website, Zhao urged the police to release the unit’s financial records to the public, a request that was accepted on Sunday.
“Because this problem affects public security organs and the people’s livelihoods, the problem cannot be dragged on anymore,” Zhao said. “If this keeps going, how much of taxpayers' money are we wasting?”
Zhao further criticised the unit for being nothing but an “artificial tourist attraction” and not servicing the real needs of public security.
The female-only regiment is involved in standard traffic policing, urban management and crowd control at major events. They can sometimes be seen patrolling popular tourist areas in ceremonial garb - blue jacket, black helmet - armed with their elaborate sabres.
The mounted police unit, modelled after Canada’s iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was formed in December 1994 and spearheaded by then-mayor Bo, in what was an attempt to spice up the city’s image with more pomp.
Bo went on to become governor of Liaoning, commerce minister and later, Chongqing’s party chief, but he was sacked from his position in the Communist Party last fall after being implicated in one the biggest political scandals in the country’s history.
Since his downfall, local and municipal governments across the country have been subtley severing all ties to Bo and his legacy.