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Found 6 results

  1. Moderator Note: This topic originally was part of a topic related to a conversation with the new Boquete Police Captain Roberto Espinoza. (See http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/4775-getting-to-know-boquete-police-captain-roberto-espinoza/.) While related to that breakfast conversation with Captain Espinoza, it has taken on a specific theme, that of the reporting of crimes and the results from such reporting. The management of CL has concluded that this spinoff should be separated as its own topic. I hate to be the cynic here, but my experience with crime reporting has inspired no confidence in the Panamanian system of justice. A couple of years ago my next door neighbors were burgled at midday, while having gone to town for lunch. They returned in an hour and fifteen minutes to find an iPad, e-reader, jewelry, and camera missing. (A side door had been left unlocked, each having thought the other locked it.) Their big black dog was unharmed but clearly stressed. They both were relatively new residents at the time so, as a neighbor and as a U.S. warden, I offered to help with the reporting of the crime, as residents have been encouraged to do. A call to Rodny had sent the Police to the scene, but they conducted no investigation. They told my neighbor, over his fence, to report the crime at the Police station. I went there with him and, after a long delay, we were sent to the Personaria. I had put together in writing (Spanish) what had happened as it was simple and straightforward. Personnel at the Personaria were not interested in it, however. They said we would have to file a denuncia with one of their "agents" (for lack of a more precise term) and that we would need a translator from DIJ in David to do that. A phone call was made, and finally another appointment was made for a couple of days later to fit the translator's schedule. All of this took a good bit of time. That scheduled meeting was cancelled, however, when the translator couldn't make it after all, so there was another wasted trip downtown. About a week after the burglary, we finally met with the translator (who was very nice and very accommodating) and the employee/agent at the Personaria (who was dour and somewhat intimidating). My neighbor answered questions, many of which bore little or no relevance to the burglary, for over an hour even though this was a very simple matter with a limited number of viable suspects: i.e., someone who could see that they were leaving and who knew that the dog was harmless. Then, to top it off, the agent said the neighbor's wife also would have to come in an give a statement--again requiring the scheduling of a meeting with a translator-- even though, of course, she was with her husband the entire time and her testimony was exactly the same as her husband's. Moreover, there was ample opportunity ahead of time to notice us that she would be needed. After all this time and inconvenience, the neighbors never heard from the authorities again. So much for "work[ing] with and coordinat[ing] followup reports with the Personaria." This was as inefficient and non-productive a procedure as I have ever seen. It almost seems to designed to ensure that petty crimes will NOT be reported.
  2. Marcelyn and I scheduled a meeting between ourselves and the Boquete Police, Captain Roberto Espinoza. That meeting was held on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 at Puente de Encuentro (aka Olga's) here in Boquete (behind the Dollar Store). The purpose for the meeting was to familiarize Captain Espinoza with CL, and other services that we may be able to offer him and his colleagues, and to get to know him better and publish that information to CL members. Given that my Spanish skills are not good, we invited a good friend -- Mitzi Clare Nash -- who is a licensed translator to join us for the breakfast meeting. Besides an excellent breakfast, courtesy of Olga, we had a very good conversation that lasted a bit short of one hour. What follows are the salient points that were discussed. First, a bit of background about Captain Espinoza. He was assigned to the Boquete office in December 2016. He is originally from Boquete, and so he knows the area very well. He soon will be achieving 30 years of police service. He could retire later this year, but no firm decision has been made at this juncture. We found Captain Espinoza to be an excellent listener and logical thinker. He was easy to approach, and always very professional, with a huge smile on his face most of the time, unless deep in thought. Boquete has 20 assigned officers. Ten of those officers are on duty at any time, and the other ten are resting and on standby in case of an emergency. They have only one (yes 1) vehicle, which is a Toyota HiLux truck. The truck on average gets about 5,000 kilometers every two weeks, and so service for the vehicle is a big issue, referring to the routine changing of oil and filters, etc. The current truck already has over 100,000 KM on it, and so there is no more factory warranty coverage. All parts and maintenance costs are strictly on the police department. Of the 20 officers for the Boquete office, Officer Pedro Guerra is the only one who is fluent in English. If you are competent in Spanish, or have access to either Rodny Direct or Alto Al Crimen resources, then there should be no language problem while calling for police assistance. Otherwise, look around for a neighbor or friend to help when you need to contact the police. When asked what the residents can do to help him, Captain Espinoza immediately responded without hesitation: anytime there is a crime type incident, it is very important to report it to the police, and if appropriate to make a denuncia (a sworn statement of an alleged crime), and then work with and coordinate followup reports with the Personaria (think of that as a local "district attorney"). Without the reports of every crime, it would be reasonable to expect two downsides: (a) the size of the Boquete police force might be reduced, and more importantly (b) if the police recover goods believed to be stolen but have no report to link the goods back to the rightful owner, then two undesirable outcomes are likely, first would be that the goods are not documented as stolen and so it is possible that the bad guy(s) could go free as there is no documented crime, and also you probably will never recover your stolen goods. We don't think you would like those outcomes. You need to be aware that Panama changed its legal accusatory system in the recent past. All of the laws and regulations about how someone gets officially charged with a crime have changed. There have been a few twists in how things work. One twist is that once the police believe they have the criminal in front of them for questioning, they are restricted as to what they can say or do. One example is that the police cannot take a picture of that person. All of these procedural rules were designed so as to protect the rights of an accused person. One violation of those rights (such as taking even one picture of the accused), even if unintentional, will most likely result in invalidating all of the evidence that would be used in a legal proceeding. It is not our purpose here to educate our readers about the new accusatory system, but you need to be aware of it, and that it might adversely affect the outcome of an incident that you are involved in. There are two issues that Captain Espinoza has very high on his list, hopefully to be achieved in the near future. First is the maintenance issue for their one truck. While it is in for service, they have no backup vehicle(s). By the way, we learned that the routine maintenance on their one truck is done (we believe he said without charge for labor) by Quick Fix, which is located across from Plaza Los Establos. (On the matter of maintenance parts and supplies, he did not solicit donations, but it sounded like if someone wanted to donate funds or the actual parts for the truck's routine maintenance that such a donation would be appreciated.) The second important goal is that of getting a better security facility at the Caldera bypass intersection on the David-Boquete highway. This really means two separate but related items. One is a barrier/entrance gate on the Caldera bypass road. And the second is the need for a "pull off shoulder" for vehicles to be removed from the main traffic lanes for additional inspection. Apparently the mayor of Boquete has to approve these items through the construction permit process, and so the police department is putting energy into getting the security gate and the bypass shoulder planned, designed, funded, approved, and constructed. The last area that we talked about was communications between the police and the residents. Captain Espinoza emphasized two items here: (a) use of the WhatsApp capability of mobile devices, and (b) the Vecinos Vigilantes program, which is known by gringos as Neighborhood Watch. Here are some pictures of Captain Roberto Espinoza, and Mitzi Clare Nash (our translator friend).
  3. Public Security Forces in the Spotlight Police Corruption under Scrutiny Three members of the National Police were dismissed by the Disciplinary Board of the entity as a result of 'Operation Imprisonment': a Captain, a Sergeant and a Chief. So far in 2016, 32 members of the National Police (PN) have been removed from the entity by cases linked to corruption and disciplinary misdemeanors, according to statistics of the institution itself. Last Friday night, for example, three policemen were dismissed who are allegedly linked to the criminal network detected in the penitentiary system, which was devoted to alter criminal judgments, falsifying ballots of freedom and defrauding relatives of inmates, as confirmed by the director of the institution, Omar Pinzón. The case was submitted to the Disciplinary Board of the entity and involves a Captain, a Sergeant and a Chief. Figures from the direction of Professional Responsibility (DRP) realize that between July 2014 and June 2016, investigations against members of the National Police, for alleged irregularities, which has caused 175 dismissals of agents of different ranges. "We ourselves depuramos. These cases are judicializados. The members of the National Police have to be clear in its principles of integrity and how does not affect the image of the institution," said Olmedo Moreno of the DRP. Network are three members of the National Police (PN) that are allegedly linked to the criminal network dedicated to alter criminal judgments, falsify ballots of freedom and defraud to relatives of inmates, organization that was dismantled last Wednesday through Operation imprisonment. Last Friday, 12 August, at night, the three police officers were dismissed from the institution, assured official sources. But these are not the only cases linked with corruption and violation of rules in the heart of the entity. Statistics of the Directorate of Professional Responsibility (DRP) of the National Police, reveal that between July 2014 and June 2016, nearly 2,000 investigations against members of the police have been opened, which caused 175 dismissals. 12 of these cases are related to drug trafficking. In 2016 alone there have been 32 dismissals of police for allegedly committing irregular practices. Olmedo Moreno, director of DRP, explained that there are three ways to start an investigation within the entity. Ex officio, which occurs when they learn of any situation through the media or any information that they arrive at the office. Also open files in the event that any person brought the complaint in the own PN, and is also being investigated to its staff when they are the subject of complaints. As regards to the 12 cases related to drug trafficking, Moreno said here they worked in coordination with the public prosecutors office of drugs. For example,he mentioned the case in which he was involved a subcomisionner of the PN in a shootout in the Martin Avenue Sosa, in the capital. That act occurred in October 2015. He also recalled the operation in which reversed a network of drug traffickers in Panama this, and where it was detected that four staff members of the National Police were involved: two Captains, a Sergeant and an official. The occurrence was recorded in March 2015. "We our debugging ourselves. These cases are judicialized. The members of the National Police have to be clear in its principles of integrity to not affect the image of the institution", added Moreno. The role of the GIA Last April, the United States Department of State, in a report, pointed out that the institutions of security and justice of Panama remain susceptible to corruption and drug trafficking. In addition, left in evidence the difficulties that has the public force for prosecuting the crimes of money laundering, as well as the complex financial crimes. That same month, the president of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela, announced the formation of the Inter-agency Group against Corruption (GIA), which according to the Executive Decree No. 209, which created it, has as its mission to promote actions against the acts of corruption and organized crime to the internal of the agencies of the public forces. The GIA is under the umbrella of the National Security Council, and is coordinated by Bolívar Medina Dominguez, who was appointed in July last. In accordance with which explained the minister of Public Security, Alexis Bethancourt Yau, the GIA played an important role in the dismantling of the network of alleged corruption that operated in the prison system. The Minister added that the GIA received the information of what was happening in the country's prisons, and with its human resources supported the Public Ministry and the direction of judicial information. The former National Police Oswaldo Fernandez (1991-1995) pointed out that it is good that the police take the units bad, that is quite low, in relation to the overall figure. There will always be one that breaks the rule. It is good that the entities have the procedures needed to pull these units and put them at the disposal of the competent authorities", he said. http://www.prensa.com/politica/Policia_Nacional-_DRP-_Corrupcion_0_4551294867.html
  4. 10 Local Gang Members Captured this Morning At least 10 members of the gang "Aponte" were captured this Thursday, 11 August 2016 in the city of David, Province of Chiriquí. These captures were achieved in an operation carried out this morning, ordered the Office of the prosecutor specializing in crimes of unlawful association (gang actions) of the Office of the Procurator General of the nation of the Public Ministry. In the action also participated agents of the National Police and the direction of judicial investigation. The Public Ministry reported that continue the operations in order to achieve the arrest of the rest of the persons investigated. Information in development... http://www.prensa.com/provincias/Capturan-pandilleros-provincia-Chiriqui_0_4549794980.html
  5. With all the talk of demanding more police presence and better judicial enforcement, this article by David Brooks in the NY Times provides some perspective. I suggest everyone read it and take to heart the message that in developing countries one's personal security is largely a personal matter, not a governmental one. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/25/opinion/brooks-the-republic-of-fear.html?_r=1 "If you’re reading this, you are probably not buffeted by daily waves of physical terror. You may fear job loss or emotional loss, but you probably don’t fear that somebody is going to slash your throat, or that a gang will invade your house come dinnertime, carrying away your kin and property. We take a basic level of order for granted. "But billions of people live in a different emotional landscape, enveloped by hidden terror. Many of these people live in the developing world. "When we send young people out to help these regions, we tell them they are there to tackle “poverty,” using the sort of economic designation we’re comfortable with. We usually assume that scarcity is the big challenge to be faced. We send them to dig wells or bring bed nets or distribute food or money, and, of course, that’s wonderful work. "But as Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros point out in their gripping and perspective-altering book, “The Locust Effect,” these places are not just grappling with poverty. They are marked by disorder, violence and man-inflicted suffering. “The relentless threat of violence is part of the core subtext of their lives, but we are unlikely to see it, and they are unlikely to tell us about it. We would be wise, however, to not be fooled — because, like grief, the thing we cannot see may be the deepest part of their day.” "People in many parts of the world simply live beyond the apparatus of law and order. The District of Columbia spends about $850 per person per year on police. In Bangladesh, the government spends less than $1.50 per person per year on police. The cops are just not there. "In the United States, there is one prosecutor for every 12,000 citizens. In Malawi, there is one prosecutor for every 1.5 million citizens. The prosecutors are just not there. "Even when there is some legal system in place, it’s not designed to impose law and order for the people. It is there to protect the regime from the people. The well-connected want a legal system that can be bought and sold. "Haugen and Boutros tell the story of an 8-year-old Peruvian girl named Yuri whose body was found in the street one morning, her skull crushed in, her legs wrapped in cables and her underwear at her ankles. The evidence pointed to a member of one of the richer families in the town, so the police and prosecutors destroyed the evidence. Her clothing went missing. A sperm sample that could have identified the perpetrator was thrown out. A bloody mattress was sliced down by a third, so that the blood stained spot could be discarded. "Yuri’s family wanted to find the killer, but they couldn’t afford to pay the prosecutor, so nothing was done. The family sold all their livestock to hire lawyers, who took the money but abandoned the case. These sorts of events are utterly typical — the products of legal systems that range from the arbitrary to the Kafkaesque. "We in the affluent world live on one side of a great global threshold. Our fundamental security was established by our ancestors. We tend to assume that the primary problems of politics are economic and that the injustices of the world can be addressed with economic levers. When empires like the Soviet Union collapse, we send in economists with privatization plans instead of cops to help create rule of law. When thuggish autocracies invade their neighbors we impose economic sanctions."But people without our inherited institutions live on the other side of the threshold and have a different reality. They live within a contagion of chaos. They live where the primary realities include violence, theft and radical uncertainty. Their world is governed less by long-term economic incentives and more by raw fear. In a world without functioning institutions, predatory behavior and the passions of domination and submission blot out economic logic. "The primary problem of politics is not creating growth. It’s creating order. Until that is largely achieved, life can be nasty, brutish and short. "Haugen is president of a human rights organization called the International Justice Mission, which tries to help people around the world build the institutions of law. One virtue of his group is that it stares evil in the eyes and helps local people confront the large and petty thugs who inflict such predatory cruelty on those around them. Not every aid organization is equipped to do this, to confront elemental human behavior when it exists unrestrained by effective law. It’s easier to avoid this reality, to have come-together moments in daytime. "Police training might be less uplifting than some of the other stories that attract donor dollars. But, in every society, order has to be wrung out of exploitation. Unless cruelty is tamed, poverty will persist."
  6. This gathering is to protest ALL of the recent crimes in Chiriqui in which juveniles participate! The laws must change to recognize that, even though these are young people, they must be held accountable for their crimes...ESPECIALLY murder and attempted murder! SECURITY MEETING - OCT 9 at 5.00pm at the Potrerillos cruce park !!! A security meeting will be held TODAY at 5.00 pm in the Parque Surtapec (little park at the Potrerillos cruce/crossing)...The Mayor from Dolega, the representantes,police and all interested public are invited. Please put this out to all of our friends and neighbors. This affects everyone, not just Potrerillos residents. The officials and police are responding to calls and outcry from the public. They know something has to be done. PLEASE show up in if you can and bring some of your workers.So everybody knows about this. I would ask anyone with media contacts to get this out to them as well. Gracias all.
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