Saturday, July 21 2012 @ 11:40 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
The police officer asked for my driver's license, and he asked if I had any outstanding tickets. This confused me a little bit, because at first I didn't understand what he was asking or why. I also wanted to establish my role as the "slightly deaf and not so good Spanish" gringo, in order to get him to speak up (for the video). He said he was going to call my personal ID number in on the radio to be checked in their "pele police" system, to see if I was wanted for anything. I asked him if they don't carry these little handheld "pele police" devices on them anymore (just out of curiosity) and he said they superiors have them, and they call in to do the checks via radio.
At about this time his partner rode up and asked about the expired tags. I told him yup, they are expired, and I don't have the temporary permission to drive around. So, they caught me, had me dead to rights. I just looked at them, and wanted to see if they were going to start playing the "squeeze you for a bribe" game. I also had the dash-cam spun around and was recording the whole exchange. I think the first cop might have spotted the camera at some point, but I'm not sure.
Then the other cop asked me where I work. I told him I'm the owner of a media outlet, a journalist. I played the "Wild Bill" card - saying "remember that Wild Bill guy, I caught him." They asked me if I have a card identifying me as a journalist, and I said no, I am the owner. They said OK, here's your paperwork. Be sure to get your tags updated. And, have a nice day.
Thanks for the warning. As far as I could tell, these guys didn't do anything wrong. The one who was in the wrong was me (expired tags). They let me go with a warning, so thanks. Now I'll get the tags done next week, and that will be that.
This little exercise helped to confirm a couple of things. I didn't know how good the dash-cam video would be in this sort of a situation, and it's great - perfect for a bribery situation. I have it tucked up under the rear view mirror, so I sort of doubt that they saw it, although that's possible. And when I get pulled over and they want to give me a ticket for (whatever), I always just say "OK, write the ticket". I never try to squirm, bullshit my way out of it, indicate I might be willing to pay a bribe, or whatever. I let them do that, if they're going to.
Anyway, here's the dash-cam video of this little exchange, for what it's worth. I suspect they might have let me go because I played the "Wild Bill" card, but who knows. Make sure to keep the license plates on your car up to date or you might get pulled over. Have a great day.
Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.