Friday, July 31, 2009

Police Presense

Since news of the Swine Flu hit the global press and the number of tourists dropped to almost nothing, it seems the police have less people to stop so now they are actively stopping the locals, both Mexican and non alike. It is said that quite often when one is pulled over for a traffic infraction one can simply "pay the ticket on the spot to the officer" for a mere $200 pesos (around $20 USD) rather than actually receiving a ticket. Some might call this a bribe.

Typically when one is stopped, the officer will take one's license, issue a ticket and then one needs to drive to the police precinct, pay the fine and only then will the license be returned. It's often easier to pay the fine on the spot; however it is does not help the growing corruption problem.

Corruption exists globally - even in the US - it's just that the results are more predictable in Mexico. Pay an officer $20 and get out of a ticket. In the US one might be arrested for such an act. If one were to tell me that there are no corrupt politicians or police officials in the US than I might call that person crazy.

Since Allan and I have been in Mexico we have been pulled over many times for traffic violations and only once was it not our fault. We have paid a significant amount of money for these infractions.

What some people do is to make various colored copies of one's license, have them laminated and then hand the copies to the officer. The officer then takes the license, issues the ticket and then one leaves. The license copy remains at the police barracks and there is no need to pay to receive the copy back, so one essentially avoids paying the bribe and avoids paying the actual ticket. I'm not saying this trickery is right, but it does turn the tables on police corruption. If they can play games why can't "offenders".

In places like Mexico City where police corruption was once rampant I've heard there has been a large crackdown. Anyone offering a bribe will be arrested - any officer asking for one will be fired. Since the swine flu there was been a lot of complaints from motorists in Playa about police corruption. Even the Mexican consulate has become involved. Various gringos have voiced their detailed complaints to the consulate, the consulate has met with the head of police and one officer has been fired and various others reprimanded.

Allan and I refuse to pay into Playa's police corruption problem. We are going to drive safely according to posted traffic rules, and if we are pulled over injustly will address the situation without paying any bribes. It always helps to play stupid like Allan does, pretending one speaks no spanish, and often one is let go without a ticket or bribe being paid.

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