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Bonnie

Spin Off Discussion from Getting to Know Boquete Police Captain Roberto Espinoza -- Accountability and Responsibility for Crime

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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.


 

 

On 1/25/2017 at 7:08 PM, Moderator_02 said:

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").

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.

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What a "downer".  Sorry about your bad experience, but are you saying we should NOT report crimes to the Boquete police?

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Quote

are you saying we should NOT report crimes to the Boquete police?

No, she didn't say that at all. You're putting words in someone else's mouth.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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People can draw whatever message they like from this experience. I drew three things.  One, when you report a crime, be prepared for a long, time-consuming process with which you are unlikely to be satisfied. Secondly, if the Panamanian security forces really want better crime reporting, they need to look at their own procedures first so as to encourage rather than discourage people from filing. Finally, as has been said many times by security-minded persons and organizations here, you are your own best provider of security. I have no reason to believe that Captain Espinoza is not a well-meaning, dedicated law enforcement official. But the system itself is not supportive of his declared aims.

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9 hours ago, MarkoBoquete said:

In the infamous San Carlos robbery a couple of years ago, Rodny's sister organization, the Panama Helpline in Coronado hired a Boquete detective to investigate. Turns out one of the robbers used a stolen iPhone to take selfies of himself and his family. They went up to the iCloud and were widely circulated.

The victims in this attack/robbery were four of my closest friends. As the men were beaten and all were tied up face down on the floor for an extended period of time, the incident has had a lasting effect on their lives. One of the couples left Panama after having lived here happily for ten years.

Mark, could you please relate the outcome of the criminal investigation of this infamous crime? Many people did not live here at that time, which was four or maybe five years ago, not a couple. What, in your view, can we learn from it (if anything)?

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In my memory (13 + years), no Panamanian perpetrator of a crime against a gringo has ever been solved to the point where the perpetrator has been jailed.

I would love it if someone could cite a case where I was wrong. They did catch Wild Bill and Ozzie and jailed them but they were/are both gringos.

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17 minutes ago, Penny said:

In my memory (13 + years), no Panamanian perpetrator of a crime against a gringo has ever been solved to the point where the perpetrator has been jailed.

I would love it if someone could cite a case where I was wrong. They did catch Wild Bill and Ozzie and jailed them but they were/are both gringos.

Good point, Penny. I can't recall any either, even the murder or Joe Petrobenko in Caldera, the vicious attack on Marion Clamp in Potrerillos that left her hospitalized for weeks, or the aforementioned attack in Coronado. This is something that International Living, Best Places in the World to Retire, and similar publications don't tell you about Panama.

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So if the legal system works against gringos in favor of Panamanian perpetrators, what rights/choices do gringos (non citizens) have? I have been told that if I try to get involved with protesting or changing Panamanian laws I can be deported.

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45 minutes ago, Bonnie said:

People can draw whatever message they like from this experience. I drew three things.  One, when you report a crime, be prepared for a long, time-consuming process with which you are unlikely to be satisfied. Secondly, if the Panamanian security forces really want better crime reporting, they need to look at their own procedures first so as to encourage rather than discourage people from filing. Finally, as has been said many times by security-minded persons and organizations here, you are your own best provider of security. I have no reason to believe that Captain Espinoza is not a well-meaning, dedicated law enforcement official. But the system itself is not supportive of his declared aims.

So your concern or problem is with the procedures that the police are required to use and not with the police staff?

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1 hour ago, Penny said:

In my memory (13 + years), no Panamanian perpetrator of a crime against a gringo has ever been solved to the point where the perpetrator has been jailed.

I would love it if someone could cite a case where I was wrong. They did catch Wild Bill and Ozzie and jailed them but they were/are both gringos.

Penny, I haven't lived here in Boquete, Panama, as long as you and don't know about these local crimes involving gringos as victims. One of the hoped for outcomes of the meeting that Bud and I had with Captain Espinoza was to have better communication between the police and the gringo population. Example: outcome of police findings re crime investigations. 

Bud and I are trying to extend a "friendship hand" to Captain Espinoza and his staff. Bud is busy in the kitchen baking brownies, which we will take to the police station later today. This to tell the Captain we appreciate his taking time to meet with us earlier this week.

Gotta go.....Bud needs help in the kitchen!

Edited by Marcelyn
Corrected typo

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1 hour ago, Pat said:

"No".  Then what is her message?

The reason I offered the comment is because your assumption could easily get stretched into:

"the U.S. Embassy recommends NOT to report crimes to the Boquete Police"

Edited by Keith Woolford

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1 hour ago, Pat said:

So your concern or problem is with the procedures that the police are required to use and not with the police staff?

Not necessarily. I was focusing on crime-reporting procedures in this example.

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3 hours ago, Penny said:

In my memory (13 + years), no Panamanian perpetrator of a crime against a gringo has ever been solved to the point where the perpetrator has been jailed.

I would love it if someone could cite a case where I was wrong. They did catch Wild Bill and Ozzie and jailed them but they were/are both gringos.

I can provide some inferential evidence.   The prison at the end of Calle F Sur has over 1,200 prisoners, all of whom must have been jailed for something.  Since a high percentage of crimes in Chiriqui are property crimes, it would be logical to assume that a large portion of those prisoners were convicted of (or are awaiting trial for) property crimes and that some proportional share of them would be for crimes against gringos.  The population of the area is possibly close to 200,000,  and gringos probably number under 5,000.  Moreover,  as much as gringos are sensitive to crimes against gringos, the numbers of those crimes are probably disproportionately small compared with those against the majority population..

For another look at the situation, I can say that my experience with property crimes and their being solved in the US is not a lot difference than the experiences people have here..  I owned a good bit of rental property in Nashville, Tennessee,  a city with a large and fairly well organized police department.  I managed several other units for a good friend.  In over thirty years there were quite a few burglaries in the units, more in lower income areas, but "bastante" in all of them.  In all of that time, not one burglar was caught by the police for those crimes.  In one case, we knew who had done a B&E crime on a Sunday evening (but the police were not interested in knowing).   My tenant and his brother knew approximately where the guy lived, went there the next day and announced an offer of $15 for information that allowed them to find him.  About 10:00 PM on Monday I received a call, saying, "We got him.  What do you want us to do with him?"  They brought him to my house.  He was quivering because those two Black guys had  scared him senseless,  though they had not harmed  him.  I had him empty his pockets.  He had a public defender's business card and also the card of a parole officer.   He said  he could get my stuff back, but it was apparent that the money someone had paid him for that stuff haf already been sniffed up his nose.  I called the police and asked that he be arrested, and the cop was reluctant. He told the cop that he could gt my stuff back, and the cop believed him!  I insisted on his arrest, and the cop took him in.  I went to night court and swore out a warrant.  The cop testified against him since his offer to retrieve my stuff was a confession, and he went to the slammer for three years when his parole was revoked   And THAT was the only burglar I know of in thirty years who was caught and convicted of a property crime on my property or that of my friend.

So when I hear of the low apprehension and conviction rates here, I have a way of putting them into perspective.

*******

 

Edited by Admin_01
reformatted quoted text to be as quoted text -- for clarity

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You were asked about the new Chief of Police on December 5th and never responded.

Alto Al Crimen Update   News Boquete   Chiriqui.Life  Your Information Portal(1).png

Inferential evidence and anecdotal analogies are just assumptions.

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Bob, welcome to 2017.

those two Black guys

those two big guys

those two strong guys

those two frightening guys

Edited by Keith Woolford
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Bob, that's a lot of inferences, assumptions, and probablys. Penny and I said we could not remember a single case of a Panamanian being successfully prosecuted for a crime against a gringo. Apparently, neither can you or I feel sure you would have told us.

Admittedly, property crimes in general have low priority with police. But surely you are not unaware of the home invasion robberies against gringos. These are significant crimes during which there were significant injuries and even death. No prosecutions that I'm aware of, and in most cases I'm aware of not even an arrest.

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In summary:

Protect yourself as best you can,using every resource humanly possible to do so. You have left Kansas.

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Bud and Marcelyn thank you for this report!

 What astonished me was  that Boquete Police are back down to one police vehicle? If my memory serves me correct, did the Boquete Police receive at least 4 new vehicles in 2015?  http://www.altoalcrimen.info/?p=499

I know they are sharing with Dolega and Gualaca but only 1 in Boquete? Really? Did the rest get stolen?

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I suspect they deteriorated and ultimately died from lack of maintenance. There never has been adequate funding to maintain police vehicles or ambulances. The one vehicle certainly explains why so many people are reporting extremely slow response times when the Police are summoned. All the more reason to take as many steps as necessary to protect yourself and your home.

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In the upper Volcancito area around three years ago there was a rash of burglaries and at least one home invasion (a semi-inside job on which if did a follow-up for Alto al Crimen).  A home owner in the area saw two men poking around a neighbor's house and called the police.  they happened to be in the area because of the other incidents.  When they arrived they captured one man and gave chase on foot after the other one.  He ran to the edge of a canyon, lost his footing and fell.   He was impaled on a tree and killed.  I do not definitely know that those two men were the same ones who robbed gringos, but there was a pretty good likelihood.  

Statistics and inferences are sometimes the only way to analyze some things.  Does it seem logical to assume that there are over 1,200 people in the David prison and that NONE of them committed a crime against a gringo?  Is anyone willing to believe that the police just selectively don't bother to solve crimes involving gringos?  That would be the other available theory.

And does anyone think for a minute that police here or most places are politically correct enough to omit racial features or skin color in their bulletins?  Our gardener is a nice man  I respect him.  We dine at the table together and have conversations.  He's a Ngobe and proud of it.  He looks like a Ngobe  Sometimes, when I tell other people about him,, I say that he's a Ngobe or Indian.  Even in 2017 there is nothing wrong with that. It is the truth.  The tenant I mentioned was Black.  He rented four different places from me over the years because he knew that I was fair and not racially prejudiced.  He was a Vietnam vet who still had a bullet in him that had never been removed.  I knew the various kinds of work he did   He was a lot of things..  And every day of his life, along with a lot of other characteristics,  he was Black.  Here, we go to "Chino stores". The Chinos are Panamanians, along with Hispanics, Whites, Indigenous peoples, and Blacks. The Chinos are generally smart and hard-working.   But the local people and many gringos call them the Chinos.  Why?  It's not derogatory.  It's because they ARE  It is an aid to description and communication, and there is nothing wrong about acknowledging it.

 

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"He was a lot of things.."

Quite possibly, but the only way you chose to describe him was Black.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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I received an email from Marion yesterday after she saw this thread. Among other things, she wrote: " In my case the youngest of the intruders (14) who stabbed me was given a slap on the hand and released.  The older teenager who shot me twice, I think was 17.  He was held for some time but eventually released before he went to trial -- or so I have been told."  Further, she wrote: "Perhaps if I felt that "justice would be done" and the perpetrators of the stabbing and shooting would be imprisoned to protect other people, I might still be in Chiriqui.  As it was, with one of the intruders released immediately, I felt, after 15 years, that I had to leave.  I am now in Mexico, living in Playacar with guard houses at all entrances to this beautiful residential area, renting an apartment in a complex with gates and 24/7 guards -- I never ever wanted to live in a guarded community -- but finally I feel safe."

It is the feeling of many, based on experience, that crimes against gringos by Panamanians are not vigorously investigated or prosecuted. Again, no one has come forth with even one example to the contrary even though, over the ten years I have lived here, there have been numerous instances of these crimes. Other crimes appear to be successfully prosecuted and the perpetrators incarcerated, as evidenced by the high number of inmates in the jails here. What kind of message does this send to the criminal element?

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As far as the invasion of Marion's home goes and her subsequent attempted murder, I do not think anyone has been prosecured for it even though the police caught at least two of the perps.  Just prior to Marion leaving the Country she was called back in by DIJ for a further "interview" and she did mention that she was uncomfortable with the way it was conducted.  I would suspect, that since she has gone to Mexico, that nothing further will be done.  This was my first (and so far only) introduction to Panamanian detectiving and as a retired police officer I was not terribly impressed.  It seemed to me that everything was about "process" and not much about investigation.  Lots and lots of police officers on scene, many at the hospital, numerous long interviews done where the preamble to the interview ( both verbal and written) seemed to take much longer than the interview itself.  I couldn'd help getting the impression that everything was being done for show.  Given that experience, I would not trust the Panamanian police to investigate and prosecute expat crimes.  Yes, there are a ton of people in the David jail, but for what, exactly?  Seems to me most of them must be on remands waiting for trial, heck if Wild Bill hasn't been tried yet after admitting murders it does not bode well for a contested prosecution.  I guess all of the above can be distilled down to "you are responsible for your own safety". Indeed, this isn't Kansas, or Canada, or Britain.  Look after youselves and take care.

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Bonnie,

Thank you for sharing with us an update on Marion.   It is clear she had no choice but to leave with her assailants apprehended but let go waiting til hell freezes over for justice to prevail. She was a living witness and staying here put her in danger.   Happy to hear she is happy where she is...and safe.  

This entire thread is an eye opener.   Nobody wants to think they are prey when they are in the twilight of their days and settled  in retirement, or....settled in here with their young family which seems to be a recent trend.  That said, times are changing everywhere on the planet with regard to living safe and secure.

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