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Dr Sleepwell

How Other Communities in Panama are Getting Tough on Crime

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The beach communities, centered on Coronado and stretching to Santa Clara in the west and Valle Anton to the north, and San Carlos in the east, have seen more than their share of violent crime emanating from their close connection to Panama City. Several extremely violent robberies, some involving Boquete residents, deeply affected the residents. 

In 2013, working with the new Rodny hotline service in Boquete, T. Rob Brown took the lead in founding what is now the Panama Helpline. Based on the same technology and methodology of Rodny Direct and with training from Rodny, both organizations are founding members of what is becoming the Panama Helpline Network. 

After innumerable feel-good meetings with the police and officials, the residents and Panama Helpline took matters into its own hands. Their story is apocryphal for us here in Chiriqui. It is presented here complete in the hopes that it will inspire those among us who will not accept the tyranny of crime in our community.

 

T. Rob Brown, founder Panama Helpline:

We do not let the Police, DIJ or Public Ministry speak at our meetings anymore -  do these dog and pony BS shows  - it gives them credibility, when it is pure political crap. It also takes the heat off the brass.

We are still waiting for the six new bilingual police officers and two new vehicles in San Carlos they promised at Rancho Los Toro on June 6th 2013 - you and Mark were there. They  said they had arrested two suspects (because Martin the PI [from Boquete] handed them the suspects on a silver platter), great applause - they said more arrests coming soon (none) , and that six new bilingual officers and three new vehicles were being sent to San Carlos (thunderous applause none have ever arrived - and then the prosecutor let them [the suspects] out after 1 hour of polite questioning,
 
So we went after the Prosecutor and sued him for failing to do his job - and sued the suspects in a civil action - The Prosecutor got “relocated", arrests were made and four people are in jail. If the media/news is not there to hold their feet to the fire, they can and will say anything - we needed a solution to the robberies, not more talk from politicos.
 
Same as the Woody’s robberies - three armed robberies within weeks - no investigation, no arrests - nothing - we hired a PI (BM Investigations this time) and called a meeting with the DIJ brass.  
 
Nothing would have happened if I did not have TV cameras, two newspapers and a radio interview set up the day the meeting was held.
 
So many cops showed up in Farallon for the meeting, the big cartel bosses sent the message out to the local gang to cut it out (they broke both legs of the gang leader - the second in command took off and has never returned)
 
We can’t catch all the crooks, but we can make a huge effort when violence is involved. That sends a message - steal a TV - fine - but shoot, hurt, rape of terrorise one of our members and we will go after you with every resource at our disposal.

 

 

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I don't know if I would slam the local officials like Mr.Brown has done.

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Hilary, I understand and appreciate your comments. 

T. Rob is never one to mince words. Let me add a little flesh to his comments from working with him over the last five years.

You could replace his first paragraph with the statement "Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." 

I have been to several of the police/community meetings he organized in and around Coronado. They are well attended on both sides, the officials are ernest and want to be helpful, cards are exchanged - and nothing happens. 

Rob has pushed the case up the line to the Attorney General and Minister of Tourism in Panama City. I sat in on some of those meetings. Again, lots of happy talk and no action. 

The problem isn't the individuals involved and nobody should denigrate them or how they do their jobs. The problem is structural and in our opinion does not admit of an easy answer based on lobbying or "pressure" from citizens. What they do respond to, though, is media coverage. That is a direction that needs to be enhanced, although we are out here in the woods. The Chinese would say "The mountains are high and the emperor is far away." 

In short, our safety is in our own hands and is our own responsibility - Panamanians and expats, as communities and individuals. It is up to each one of us to make sure that we are not vulnerable to the next tragic home invasion and to make sure that our friends are not also. We need to organize to take back our towns.

This is the entire message, philosophy and reason for existence of Dr. Sleepwell. 

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Well done, Dr. Sleepwell.  I think we all need to take care of ourselves and help others in our community to be safe.

An add on:  I don,t believe Panama currently has a US Ambassador.  I think the last one (with his wife who likes to knit) was transferred to another post.  Anyone know for sure?

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