Wednesday, October 13, 2010

police stop (again)

Last night (as of the date on this post, not when it's actually showing up), I was stopped by the police. Meh. This was actually the third time I've been stopped by the police since they routinely run check points on main roads, often by the main road to the industrial port area. It's never gone exactly smoothly, though at least I've always had a passenger who knew some degree of French more than me.

Aside: If you want to know how my French is, ask yourself how good it would be if you spent nearly 12 hours a day of every day at work. It's a matter of time and personal commitment. I can make the time, but I'm not committed.

Anyway, last night's stop went a bit differently because I was not carrying my passport (which I never do) and because I'm a goof and have not bothered to get a certified copy. This was never an issue on the first two stops, but apparently, this was a good night for the police to run a check point right outside the police station. It was a bit odd that they even had an evening checkpoint running as I have never seen that before. Well, I made some calls and got someone to bring my passport to me, but the police had taken my other documents (driving permit, car papers) into the station and I needed to follow suit.

The good news was that I was not alone. Our driver guy came (to help get the passport) and was able to run some degree of interference. I was out in a few minutes after 12,000 CFA (about $24) changed hands. Good times had by all.

And it really was good times, at least in a relative sense. Shortly after I entered the station, four other expats were brought in (a mix of South African and UK I learned) for what was likely the same sort of runaround. Oddly enough, they weren't even driving. They had been passengers in a taxi that got pulled over. It was only a bit more than above-average in dodginess when some local guy was also brought in and yelled at by the police. They pushed him to his knees and did a bit of yelling while he fumbled around for his ID out of his pocket. And then he was gone. Seriously Mom, I'm ok.

I never did get a receipt. Go figure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What’s that $24 for? Some story along the line here.

I don’t want to name the airport, but this could happen in any airports. They target young westerners in their 20’s or early 30’s, they could be Americans, Europeans, Australians/New Zealanders or anyones that look like they have some money and look a little tired.

This is how it works. While waiting for your flight, you have an hour or 2 to kill, so you walk around and wander into the duty-free shop or any other shops. Then you walk out; suddenly the security guard at the door stops you. You just happen to carry a tote bag. He wants to (randomly) check your bag, so he says. Lo and behold, he finds an item from the shop in your bag and he wants to see your receipt. You look at the item and think to yourself, you did not buy that item. To make the story short, the guard accuses you shoplifting and calls the police. The police shows up and insists either you pay the fines on the spot or he would take you to the station. The fine can be anywhere from $20 to $200. If you have no cash, the police will take you to the ATM machine. Extortion, you bet. You don’t know if they are real guards or polices. You just want to get the hell out of there.

If you have an opened tote bag, anyone can drop something into your bag without you knowing. It could even be drugs or any illegal substances. This will get you in trouble fast.