Dealing with the Policia

Discussion in 'Americas' started by BMW Kurt, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    I am planning a trip to CA from March to May 2012. I have all the usual guide books, maps and web forums for information.

    I am going to Germany in February and plan on picking up a motorcycle warning triangle as I have heard that some unscrupulous LEOs will try to pad their pockets if you don't have one. I have also heard that red reflective tape on the panniers is another ploy for cash.

    As far as the being shookdown by the police I am thinking of printing up some business cards that say:

    No hablo español. Por favor llame al Consulado Americano en 999-999-9999 y explicar la situación. Por favor, que te nombre, número de placa y el nombre de comisionados de referencia. ¡Gracias!

    I want to print these and laminate them. Of course, the phone number will change for each country I'm in. I figure that if the stop is legit the police will not have a problem with this and if it is not they will send me on my way pretty quickly.

    P.S. I used Google Translate to do the translation, if any native speakers can think of a better way to say it I would be most grateful! Gracias! Hablo un poco de espanol!
    #1
  2. tbarstow

    tbarstow Two-wheelin' Fool Super Supporter

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    What part of Mexico are you going to? I haven't had any problems in Baja with getting pulled over and shaken down.

    If you're extremely worried about it, I'd just try to look like I'm poor when riding. Ghetto-flage your bike (paint it with roll on bed liner), wear some ratty looking gear and carry a drop-wallet with a few pesos in it and an old ID.

    Real suggestions for traveling safely:

    Keep small amounts of cash spread out on you and your bike. Put it in nasty places to look, like under the footbed of your boots. Likewise with your emergency credit card.

    Don't be an ugly American, dress down, maintain a low profile, and don't flash piles of cash while trying to pay for stuff.

    Try to speak some spanish, concentrate on learning numbers.

    Carry a pocket full of candy for the kids that will mob you and little bags of trail mix or instant coffee packets for the military checkpoints.

    Use your head when in bigger cities. If you're out looking for cocaine and hookers at 3am, you're probably going to get more than you bargained for.
    #2
  3. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    They are going to laugh their asses off at you with that card.
    Why should the American Embassy help you out with a traffic violation? You can report corruption to Mexican authorities. Reporting it to your embassy of whatever country is simply pissing in the wind, amigo. Nothing is going to happen to the cop. Nothing.
    Local police forces and some federal positions work on a well oiled system of nepotism, cronyism, corruption, and political favors. Mexican cops don't give a damn what the American embassy thinks. You are fooling yourself.
    I don't know about other countries, but I imagine it won't be any different from what you will get here in Mexico.
    Where have you heard about the reflective tape (which is simple common sense really) or the triangle thing? I've never heard about either.
    I personally abhor corruption and will not support it. However, most travelers are going to get hit for something sooner or later and the best bet is to play it cool. Pushing a laminated card with an incorrect translation in the guy's face is going to mean you will pay about 5 times more in mordida than someone who knows how it works.
    Do you honestly think that a money making scam that has been in existence longer than the Federal Reserve Bank in the USA will somehow suddenly change because some gringo has a little laminated card with some implied "don't mess with me boy" message on it?
    Ride sensibly, ride responsibly, be polite, and be firm if you have been stopped and the stop is bogus. They will likely back down as you wait them out or you can take it to the local shift commander and let him sort it out. If you have broken the law, pay the fine.
    This is not a complicated thing, many people deal with it every day. This is something that has been overblown and overhyped by travelers who often want to add some embellishment to their "I survived Mexico" stories. It is the obvious sign of someone who has not ridden in some parts of the US where bogus speed traps and corrupt cops and county judges rule the roost. American riders who have covered a lot of miles know what I am talking about.
    What you should do is put your name and email address on the cards and give them to the friendly people that help you along your way and are your new friends and fellow riders.
    With your plan, you are setting yourself up to be messed with by the really corrupt cops who will take some real enjoyment out of pulling a lot of bucks out of a gringo who suddenly finds himself in a situation sliding downhill fast and digging himself a big hole at the end of the slide.
    Skip your card idea, enjoy the ride, ride responsibly, and don't expect your embassy to bail you out of a traffic ticket.
    If you think my reply is harsh, wait until you hear what a Mexican corrupt cop tells you what he thinks of the American embassy trying to tell him what he can or cannot do in his own country.
    There was a famous case from a year or so ago where some cop supposedly lost his job over a bogus stop and took way too much money from the individual he stopped. However, nobody has bothered to follow up as to what the cop is doing. My bet is he is back on the force and paying it forward to his bosses.
    Think it through before going the card route. Even the most moronic local cop is going to know that the American embassy is not going to be able to do anything or even consider it a priority. You are in their country, not yours. This is the way the world works.
    #3
  4. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    When detained by the police, the following technique will be much more effective than whatever you have printed on your card:

    Step One: Take your right hand and grab your left shoulder, as if someone had you in a headlock from behind.

    Step Two: With your left hand, place a knife blade on your neck.

    Step Three: Threaten to do yourself in if you are not released.
    <!-- / message --><!-- sig -->
    #4
  5. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    :lol3 :lol3 :lol3

    BMW Kurt, I think you are overly worried about this. And yes, they will laugh their asses off when you hand them that card. It will have the same effect as if you told the cop, "chupa mi verga puto." :lol3

    Just be polite, smile a lot, act like you have all day to hang around and speak spanglish, hold your ground (politely), wait them out and dont pay anything if you can help it. If you absolutely feel that you have to pay them, 5 bucks is more than enough.

    Equally comical is what tbarstow suggests in jest about "looking poor." :lol3 Youre a gringo moto rider in Mexico, no matter how poor you look, youre still a rich gringo moto rider in Mexico. :1drink

    As far as the reflective tape thing on the panniers, its not a Mexico thing. I was hassled about not having reflective triangles taped on my panniers by the Honduras cops and the Nicaraguan cops fishing for beer money. I just laughed at them and told that I drive a moto, not a semi doble remolque. :lol3

    I think the funniest thing that happened to me was when a cop in Argentina wanted to see my fire extinguisher. :rofl
    #5
  6. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    Well, did you show it to her and explain how it worked?:evil
    I have one, too. But if a gaggle of Mexican politicians were on fire across the street, I wouldn't walk across to use it on them.
    #6
  7. outsidein

    outsidein Been here awhile

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    Implying you expect different or special treatment in a foriegn country because you are American, or expect others to bend to your ways or beliefs, is a good way to get the locals to dislike you.
    #7
  8. ontheborder

    ontheborder Been here awhile

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    typical bmw rider. over packed.
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  9. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    :DWith all due respect to the OP, this is hilarious, especially the part about the American Embassy. Three years ago I was taken OFF an airliner sitting on the tarmac at San Jose, Costa Rica by two guys with guns under their jackets...

    Once the boys and girls in the Costa Rican Immigration Service told me I wasn't leaving the country because I was a "person of interest," and I got over the shock of being stranded in a CA country with a backpack full of dirty laundry, $200 cash, a MasterCard, and virtually no knowledge of the Spanish Language, I contacted the US Embassy. I was definitely hoping they could give me some assistance in explaining to the Costa Rican officials that they had the wrong guy!:D

    What a joke. :eek1

    When I finally had an opportunity to speak to the senior official and explain my predicament, I was told, "Well, if you violated some law in CR, there is nothing we can do to help you." When I explained that I'd never even been in CR before, the response was the same, "Well, you must have done something or they would've let you leave...give us a call when you find out more." And that was that!:rofl I knew that if I was going to get out of Dodge it'd be on my own.

    What worked most effectively for me as I navigated my way through the maze of Costa Rican law enforcement and immigration was patience, lots of smiles, patience, time, firm politeness,and patience. Did I mention patience?:rofl Even with my very limited Spanish I was able to make this work and 4 and a half days later I was on my way to Los Angeles....:deal

    Cheers,
    Steve in So Cal
    #9
  10. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    :lol3

    MikeMike kinda summed it up. Be polite, and remember that the biggest fine for speeding and such in most places is about $20US. Give 'em $20, smile, and move on. It's not worth the hassle, and in Mexico it's not likely to happen in the first place.

    Your card is an open invitation to what we jokingly call the Stupid Gringo Tax.


    ADDED:

    I notice that one of the other posters suggested $5. I think that you get the picture - smile, and ask if you can settle for something in this range.

    If they want more then be patient, keep smiling, and ask for a receipt or suggest that you should pay the fine at the police station (the last two options basically meaning that the beat cop doesn't get to keep any money).

    I don't know if anyone has mentioned this or not, but don't overlook the possibility that you have been stopped for a legitimate violation. If that's the case, and the fine is in this range, then don't whine, comply, and go about your business once you paid the fine.

    A smile and a sense of humour goes a tremendous way in Mexico.
    #10
  11. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Before this one gets out of hand, there are already several major "police encounter" threads out there, which can be found with a brief search.
    #11
  12. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    Best post I read. Thanks. You made an excellent point!

    Some seem to have thought that I would actually expect the Embassy (I meant consulate) would actually come to my aid. I just thought it might put off an unscrupulous cop. Of course, I would not contest an actual infraction. Did not mean to imply that and I really don't know how some read that into my post. I guess that shows that my English is not much better than my Spanish! :lol3 I did not mean that I should get any special treatment because I am an American. Hell, I was an ex-pat for 9 years. That so many read it that way is good to know.

    It's just that everyone I know has driven or ridden in CA has been pulled over. I have heard that the warning triangle and red tape are common reasons to be pulled over. For a fee the cop will look the other way.

    FWIW I was talking about Central America, not Mexico. Been to Mexico a lot.
    #12
  13. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Bad plan.

    Better Plan:

    LINK
    #13
  14. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    Rosetta Stone.
    #14
  15. BobLoblaw

    BobLoblaw Comfortably Numb

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    he may have been gay:D
    #15
  16. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    you are way over thinking this.

    you're going to get stopped, sometimes for shit you did, sometimes for a shake down or both.

    relax, smile, bullshit with them, and most of all, act as if you have nowhere else to be.

    they will get bored with you and you'll be on your way in under 15 minutes most likely.

    there are too many gringos scared of their own shadow coming down here throwing money at cops every time they get stopped. they're ruining it for the rest of us.
    #16
  17. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    the federal police (federales in dodge chargers) don't bother you as they are looking for drugs. the transito (local cops in small cars & on foot) are the ones who mess with you. if they are standing on the side of the road never look at them to catch their eyes or attention. they're opportunistic fuckers & lie. i got stopped one and keep saying no to a ticket and he let me go. if you've done nothing wrong wait it out and don't speak any spanish. if you're in the wrong just give em 50 peso and move on or go and pay the ticket , also around 50 pesos.
    #17
  18. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    having a second wallet w/ some small bills, old cc and photocopied liscense is key to pull out.

    i actually use a photocopy of my license, passport, visa and bike permit all on 1 sheet. i only put out the photocopy to start if they want to see something. lay all those on a copier when you get SOB and start there.

    legally police cannot keep your passport but they can hold your liscense.
    get a AAA international liscnese.

    #18
  19. Patrol

    Patrol VALE 46!

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    In my experience, the "kill 'em with kindness" approach is the very best tactic. Striking Viking seems to have a great deal of success with 'just keep smiling, shrugging, and shaking hands'. Mexican and many South American police organizations are very, very aware of the 'no habla' tactic and it has become much less effective, but I think your business card is brilliant. These donkeys need to stay off the radar so the last thing they want is attention from an embassy.
    #19
  20. BMW Kurt

    BMW Kurt Philosopher

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    Well said and point taken! :thumb
    #20