Monday, August 2, 2010

Urbal Survival Question: Police Corruption‏


    You have mentioned numerous times that people in the United

    States are  lucky because our police are not as corrupt as


    The question that I have is whether the police in Argentina were 

    affected by widespread corruption before the economic collapse.  

    One of my fears is that USA police will become much more corrupt 
    and  resemble the police in other nations where police corruption is

    a fact  of life.

    How does one take corrupt police into survival planning?  Or does

    one just have to hope that such corruption doesn't touch one's life in a 

    significant way?


    Thank you for taking the time to read my questions,



It’s a delicate issue. First of all, I want to make this abundantly clear before the trashing of US police officers begins in the comment section: I will reject any comment that ever so slightly suggests that the majority of American police officers are corrupt. There’s corruption everywhere but painting with such a broad brush is an insult to the fine men Americans are lucky to have in uniform. I’ve seen the cops looting in NO clips, the gun confiscations, and yes they are all serious issues we should all be aware of. But in spite of all that it’s a WORLD of a difference compared to police in some third world countries where corruption is indeed deeply rooted and even socially accepted. Every single time a cop stopped me here I had to give him some money, the one I tried not to I got into trouble with. Hardly a week goes by without cops getting caught robbing at gunpoint, killing , raping or torturing someone. Last week a police captain in La Plata was caught after he robbed a bakery store using his issued firearm.  I know police corruption in USA isn’t even close to these levels. 

That being said, your concern is a legitimate one, and as the recession continues there’s a chance of corruption rising on all sectors, including police. This is yet another aspect that you wont find much info on. When people like Peter Shiff (his video can be seen in a post made a couple days ago) talk about recession and poverty, this is what comes along in the package. People like him have an idea of what’s coming, they understand it from a theory and logical point but you have to live it to experience the million of little things it ends up changing regarding the way you’ll be living from now on, and what may end up happening with police is one of them.
If you ever have to deal with the type of police we have here Argentina (expect for a handful of honorable exceptions) keep these things in mind.

1)       A uniform no longer means good guy. The problem used to be bad guys disguising as police officers, now the problem is actual police officers committing all sorts of crime as mentioned above. A couple weeks  ago we saw a couple of correctional police officers (with their wives!) rob a minimart and it was all caught on the security camera. After acting like normal clients filling their carts one pulls a gun and keeps the people at gun point, then he brings a sound suppressor(silencer) from his front pocket and quickly screws it onto the barrel.  Total impunity. 

2)       Avoid encounters with the police as much as possible. As always just avoiding potential problems is always best. I’ve stopped and turned around to avoid checkpoints before, will do so again. It may be nothing, it may be bad guys, even if they are real cops, at least around here, it means at the very least that you’ll leave with a little less money. Sometimes when I can’t avoid them, what I usually do is get real close to the car in front of me, even slow down if I don’t have one close, until one gets in front of me. That way as we pass the checkpoint I’m “hiding” behind the first car. Even if one gets stopped, its more likely to be my “shield” and I can simply pretend to look the other way as I get by. Even if the cop signals me to stop it would be understandable that I didn’t see him because of the car in front blocking my vision. Sounds messy but after a while you get good at doing these things and avoiding stops and check points.

3)       Briberies are an unfortunate reality in some third world countries. Other than that don’t try to get rid of a ticket that way since it’s a serious offense in more serious countries. Keep in mid that in some 3rd world nations the choice is either getting into trouble or bribing, so its more of a formalized robbery than a bribe.

4)       When talking with the police, be polite, be formal but don’t give up information about yourself. Don’t mention guns, money, family or the type of job you do. As mentioned before, a uniform is no guarantee.

5)       Someone please show me the contract you signed where it says life is supposed to be fair… . If someday the laws are changed, you’ll be glad to have as little paper trail as possible, specially when it comes to firearms. Make sure you have a few that where bought in face to face personal transactions. You may be able to keep those hidden somewhere if another gun confiscation occurs like the one after Katrina. The lists may be used not only by the government, but also cops or other agents gone bad looking for a juicy target to hit.

6)        Its is better if you have a cop friend, preferably high ranking one that may speak in your favor if needed. Just having a name may spare you a lot of grief.



Don Williams said...

Hey, Ferfal, you're getting some competition from the US financial community.

Marc Faber, the financial advisor, thinks that the Dow will likely fall greatly in the near future. His investment advice?

"One suggestion from Faber is buying a self-sustainable farm in the middle of nowhere surrounded by high voltage fences and barbed wire and equipped with booby traps and an arsenal of machine guns, hand grenades and armed vehicles guarded by vicious Dobermans. "


So far they are not tactically knowledgable competition, however.
heh heh

Don Williams said...

PS Ferfal, you might be able to see the "Southern Lights" -- the aurora -- tonight or tomorrow night due to a large solar flare if the weather is clear. See


Anonymous said...

"a little bribe goes a long way".
after traveling in Eastern Europe
(former Soviet), Brazil, Panama,
and China, that is my advice.
a "little" bribe from the very
start, eliminates a Really Big
Bribe near the end. here is how
that works: in Azerbaijan, i
bribed my way in, and bribed my
way out. my IN bribe was porno DVD's, which allowed me to keep everything in my bags. the OUT bribe (five times the cost since everyone wants to leave) was 50 $1US bills. others, who didn't
bribe on the way OUT had problems
(especially the women) AND
they paid with their cameras,
cellphones, watches, rings, etc.
"pay me now or pay me later".
usually, Later is Bigger than Now.

Anonymous said...

I lived a good portion of my life in San Diego, Ca. Went into Mexico quite often down the Baja coast.
One time on the way back through Tijuana I got stopped by a local cop down there claiming my brake lights didn't work. So we tested them there and they worked. He replied they didn't work at the traffic stop. so he searched the truck. Big mistake was I neglected to put the current registration in the glove box. So I was arrested. Next thing that happens is my friend who spoke Spanish starts flattering him and admiring his motorcycle. Then my buddy says "give me your wallet". He hands it to the cop. The cop takes all the money out($90) in broad daylight in front of rush hour traffic and everyone rubbernecking to see the arrested gringo. Hands the wallet back and lets me go. so Ferfal gives good advice. Don't give them a chance to get you. Anyway this isn't happening in USA yet.

Now I'm living in New York City the last 12 years and I've noticed something. Here there are Traffic cops. They look like New York's Finest, but they don't carry guns. They just direct traffic and issue parking tickets. The thing is that they predominantly look like foreigners from third world countries. So a friend of mine is one and he's from Bangladesh.
I asked him about this observation and he said that, yes he won a lottery in his country to become a US citizen years ago and he got this job. Others also. The thing is that this traffic enforcement has been on a rampage. The registration of your car in NY is on your windshield and it has a bar code. All the officer has to do to write you a ticket is point a bar code reader at it and type in a code number for the offense. If you pull over to wait for someone pulling out of a parallel parking space so you can next pull in, they pounce on you with the bar code reader and give you a ticket for double parking. This is just one type of example of many. People are complaining about this, but the mayor laughs and defends it. Revenue makes him happy. It just seems some strategy is here to get new immigrants to do a more aggressive enforcement then someone would have the conscience to do if he lived here his whole life and had this job.

I brought this up to another friend of mine. He's from Gujarat India and has lived here for 30 years. He told me that in Gujerat when they have Hindu/Muslim riots the govt brings in troops from a state far away. None of the soldiers speak a word of Gujerati. A strict curfew is implemented. People get a certain amount of time to go to work and go home and maybe another time to go to the store. Like an hour. If anyone is out past the time, they're shot. No pleading with the soldiers. They can't understand a word you saying. You are shot. He did mention though that this type of martial law actually works. It stops the riots which are pretty bad. Didn't think it would work here though in a economic collapse. Probably cause civil war. Just interesting how the govt will utilize outsiders to police us.

By the way this Gujarati friend is top in his field in computers. a couple years ago he applied for a top job from one of the top companies in the world. Thousands of applicants. When they interviewed him they hired him on the spot and stopped interviewing further. Says now they are killing him with the work load. Even he is reluctant to change jobs as he may also not have luck now. Agrees it is very bad.

Anonymous said...

What about reporting a crime/incident Ferfal?

I would imagine it would be less than useful since the cops will just take advantage of you or worse will charge you with false crimes.

Would the advice, "If in doubt, try to get away with it" be a good idea?

Anonymous said...

Once again, Ferfal speaks truth. In many a third world country, the cops are more or less explicitly there for the purpose of protecting the "haves" from the "have nots."

This is why police and informers are so despised in these societies.

This is also why, if you are a "have not" and you have trouble, the LAST people you go to are the cops.

In a slightly different vein: the police in the US may be jaded, may be cynical, overworked, tired, or even lazy, they may have their hands tied, but you have to have drunk deeply of the KoolAid to believe that any significant number are robbers.


Weaseldog said...

The best defense a farmer or rancher can have is a good relationship with his or her neighbors.

Further, if your help doesn't respect you, you won't prosper. It's not enough to just buy a ranch and go rule it. You need to develop a relationship with the people there. If you just show up after a crisis has begun and start barking orders, you may not last long. After all, a lot of those good ole boys you'll be ruling, have been in Iraq and Afghanistan, fragging officers. If you go missing, your ranch will go on the auction block, and will probably sell for cheap.

Marc Faber doesn't quite get that I think.

Double Tapper said...


Our cops are no more corrupt than they are in other places. It's just human nature when you give someone power that they tend to abuse it at some point. We don't have a lot of cops demanding bribes here. What we have is a miltaristic attitude in LE.

What we have here in the US is law enforcement that have declared war on civilians. It happens when the "war on drugs" began with the "Drug Czar" Barry McCaffery declared it so.

Now cops here dress, equip and act like paramilitary units. They wear black uniforms with black balaclavas, carry AR's and use tazers as extra judicial punishment rather than to subdue trouble makers using less lethal methods. Many departments have APCs and other tactical gear. However, when they are needed to "go in" as in Columbine and Virginia Tech, they proved to be quite cowardly waiting for the shooters in both cases to end the rampages by offing themselves.

Is this corruption? Maybe not. But the coarsening of the police and the widening gulf between "them and us" is not good for a democratic society.

Kragen Javier Sitaker said...

I've only been stopped by the police here in Buenos Aires once, in 3½ years of living here. I was walking around in a park toward closing time; the cop asked what I was doing, asked if I smoked pot (which is legal here now), and demanded to see my identification. He did not ask for a bribe, nor did I offer him one. Instead he gave a speech about how he was in charge of the park. It was somewhat worrisome. I imagine that being from the US counted in my favor.

I live in a relatively working-class neighborhood (Once de Septiembre) and my clothes are far from rich, but I'm inside Capital Federal, so the economic level is a bit higher. This guy was from the Policia Federal de Argentina, not the provincial police (they don't operate inside the capital) or the new city police. The provincial police have a reputation for being a lot more corrupt.

FerFAL said...

Thanks for commenting Kragen, that's true. The province (bonaerense) police is much worse than the Federals, but they are pretty corrupt as well, remember they had a brthoel just a block away from their headquarters, clearly under their control, and yet they had 10 and 12 year old sexual slaves in there. Unfortunately that happens a lot, either underaged or women kidnaped or brought with promise of legal work from other neighboring countries.
Usuallly the leverage used is your vehicle, so if you're on foot they really can't threaten with taking anytihng away from you and they have to be much more explicit about it. I was stopped by a Federal once, he asked for some money but as you say its not as standard ops as with the Bonaerense. Prefectura is even more strict.


Anonymous said...

It depends on the economic conditions. Cops first begin to sour when they protect themselves at the expense of others. (Shoot first ask questions later). Then they protect each other. Then they start taking advantage of criminals. Then they start taking advantage of poor people and minorities. Finally they turn against the general population, and become more of a menace than any form of protection or security.

That the rule of law and it's enforcement relies so much on economic prosperity, tells you that those with the money largely control the rule of law.

Anonymous said...

I was reminded of your blog entry while reading an article called, Free Eric Echols! by William L. Anderson, especially this part:

"People who know they can lie, break the law, fabricate false evidence, and not have to face legal sanctions are not going to feel constrained to act in a trustworthy manner. (What the courts and legislatures are saying, ironically, is that police, prosecutors, and judges should not be subject to the same legal procedures that are imposed upon the rest of us. As in Orwell’s Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others.)"


Anonymous said...

The police in the U.S. are paid much better, on average, than anywhere else in the world. When your paid $60,000, $70,000, $80,000 or more a year there is no need to take bribes. I've never seen any studies on the topic, but I'm sure you'd find the more cops make, the less corrupt they are.

Anonymous said...

"When your paid $60,000, $70,000, $80,000 or more a year there is no need to take bribes."

Bribes are kind of petty at that salary range. When they make that much money they just look for higher yielding targets, just look at the recent cases of cities using confiscation laws against people for things like a broken tail light. They were doing this illegally and got caught in a city on the West coast and in the Midwestern part of the U.S. Hiding behind another car while going through a checkpoint ins't going to help you there I don't think.