Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Run in with the Police

Monday, we took a trip to Delmas to meet with another organization. Cathi and I brought the kids along so we could spend the time together. All four kids piled in the back seat of the truck and we set off. The trip alone was quite something... it was a long ride and the traffic was horrendous. However, the most memorable instance was in getting pulled over. Well, pulled over isn't even the right way to put it. I had a cop running up to my truck from behind. There was nowhere for me to pull over, so I just stayed there until he caught up to me. I rolled down the window and he asked for our ID's, which we gave him (most of this conversation took place in French, although some English and Creole made it in, too). He asked if we had ID's for the kids, to which we almost laughed and said no. He then asked for our passports. I explained to him that we didn't drive around with our passports because we were instructed to keep them locked up. He then said we needed to turn around and meet him at the previous intersection, where his "office" was. As I pulled a U-turn, I called Pastor Pierre and informed him of the predicament we'd found ourselves in to keep him in the loop. He said to call him back if we needed assistance. When we met up with the cop again, he once more demanded our passports. I assured him we did not have them. He asked how long we'd been in Haiti and who we were here with, etc, etc. He then says, "You have too many white kids. How do I know these are your kids?" Are you serious?! We told him to ask the kids who their parents were and then verify our names with the ID's he was holding, but he didn't want to do that. Then, I suggested I call Pastor Pierre who could vouch for our identities and the kids'...he just said, "No, no, don't do that." He eventually asked me to get out of the vehicle to talk to him "privately." So, I got out and walked over where he explained that there had been kidnappings in the area recently, so he wanted to make sure people were safe. He then said, "I respect you as a pastor, so here's what I'm going to do for you - I'm going to let you go. Now, what are you going to do for me?" Once again, I almost laughed and said, "Nothing! I didn't do anything wrong and if you won't let me call my boss, we're done." At this point, he almost threw the IDs back at me and told me to go.
Talk about a stressful situation!! I was trying to be as respectful as I could, but he was really testing my patience. Unfortunately, there is a lot of corruption here in Haiti, even in the law enforcement. The government often times doesn't pay them on time or well, so they resort to extorting people to get money. It's not fair for anybody, and it's a vicious cycle.
As we drew closer to where we were going, we ended up in neighborhoods with streets that no longer were drivable and kept having to turn around and ask people where we were... but that's a story for another time!

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