Many cities popular with tourists actually have specialized police forces just to deal with the problems
travelers in a foreign country often run across. Tourist Police are there to protect foreigners and to ensure
that they have a safe time while visiting. Far too often, however, it seems that tourists need protection from
the Tourist Police.
Last week, two officials from the Rio de Janeiro Tourist Police Battalion stopped a
visiting Czech and American couple and threatened to haul them to jail for drug possession. Of course, this is an
old trick; the couple had no drugs. But that never matters. The police can always claim they found some and
unless you pay them off, you’re going to jail.
The Czech and American knew the score and emptied their pockets of $260. But that wasn’t good
enough. The greedy cops accompanied the very tourists they are paid to protect back to their hotel to extort even
more money. It was at this point that alert hotel staff called Rio de Janeiro’s other police force
who promptly showed up and took their colleagues into custody.
In countries like this, I’ve always felt that uniforms are fare scarier than the common thugs who populate
the streets. At least you know what to expect from the thugs.