Monday, December 20, 2010

I Prefer My Police CORRUPT

"The police in Costa Rica are corrupt." "All the policemen in Costa Rica accept bribes and are on the 'take'." What?

They say if you repeat things often enough over time they become true whether they are or NOT. Unfortunately, the ones doing the 'repeating' are usually doing just that, repeating, and don't normally have the first clue as to the validity of what they're repeating.

Corruption has many levels, and the reasons of 'why' can be somewhat complex to say the least. The sole purpose of this post is to offer some perspective to the 'would be' traveler about the so-called 'corruption' they'd be most likely to encounter during their visit to Costa Rica, that is, if you call giving a cop $100 bucks vs. paying a $400 ticket- corruption. I'd call that a discount, but that's me.

I truly believe their is a difference between a police officer accepting $50 bucks or so for letting a 'speeder' go and looking the other way as a truckload of cocaine rolls into the neighborhood.

Police in Costa Rica don't get paid SHIT, which is the MAJOR reason they let the speeder go, after the discount that is. It's easy money, and really, a win-win situation for all involved. If you were putting your life on the line for minimum wage or close to it, I think this would be much easier to understand. These people have families and mouths to feed, which isn't an excuse since obviously they chose the profession, but come on, pickin' up a few extra bucks from gringo tourists who ARE speeding- call me 'crooked' but I get it. Sometimes being the kid in the candy store is just a little too hard to resist. *If you don't understand this, you're either a Republican or your dad owned a candy store, or even more likely, BOTH.

Costa Rica in general is perceived as a corrupt country because of the entire 'bribe the traffic cop' thing and obviously there is truth to that. But what isn't true is the cops in Costa Rica will shake you down and take your money. Don't get me wrong, that has happened and on occasion probably still does, but with the onset of technology, better training, a little more money and an effort by the police to curb the problem, this type of strong-arm intimidation/extortion, is slowly becoming the exception rather than the rule of old. They try that shit now and there's recourse just like you would have in the States. Here's an example of Costa Rica cops demanding money at a checkpoint outside Jaco. Costa Rica isn't Mexico, or at least the Mexico you often hear about. And really, let's not throw too many stones here, the U.S. definitely has its share of 'bad cop' syndrome.

Me, I've had numerous interactions with police here and have never been asked for money or given it. They've always been professional with me... because believe you me, if they hadn't, you'd have heard about it. BUT, if I was speeding and was stopped, I'd be ecstatic to be offered a a more timely and cost effective alternative, because right now, FINES are high and I WAS speeding for Christ sake. I'd much rather provide for a police officer and his or her family than the bureaucrats and theirs.

Really, this is my point-
When you get pulled over by the highway patrol going 100mph from LA to Vegas, I got a million bucks says you wish you'd been pulled over in Costa Rica...haha
Here's my VIDEO about Police Corruption in Costa Rica:

A couple things to keep in mind-

*If you get stopped, be careful about offering a 'gift'- it is against the law and it's a hefty fine. You may want to wait until the officer offers a solution to your problem FIRST.

*They can chase you in Costa Rica but normally you'll run into a check-point or they already 'caught you' and you'll be motioned to pull over. This is rarely done by one cop, where there's one, there's 5.

*Most of the new driving laws are enforced in and around San Jose, not so much in the little towns. It's normal to see 3 people on a motorcycle w/out helmets or a baby without a car seat in villages and towns scattered around the country.

*It is true they're more apt to target gringos.

*Don't try to skip out on paying a ticket, Costa Rica and rental car companies aren't stupid, you will bet BURNED.

TONS of Costa Rica Travel Info and VIDEOS on our website: Travel Costa Rica NOW and if you want to visit our YouTube Channel: iCostaRica24 ENjoY!