BANGKOK, Thailand - Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring "Hello Kitty," the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday.
Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area, or arriving late — among other misdemeanors — will be forced to stay in the division office and wear the armband all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan. The officers won't wear the armband in public.
The striking armband features Hello Kitty sitting atop two hearts.
"Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor," said Pongpat, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok.
"(Hello) Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It's not something macho police officers want covering their biceps," Pongpat said.
He said police caught breaking the law will be subject the same fines and penalties as any other members of the public.
"We want to make sure that we do not condone small offenses," Pongpat said, adding that the CSD believed that getting tough on petty misdemeanors would lead to fewer cases of more serious offenses including abuse of power and mistreatment of the public by police officers.
Hello Kitty, invented by Sanrio Co. in 1974, has been popular for years with children and young women. The celebrity cat adorns everything from diamond-studded jewelry, Fender guitars and digital cameras to lunch boxes, T-shirts and stationery.