Los Cabos’ popularity continues to grow, with record numbers of visitors recorded in 2022. People flock to this beautiful destination for everything from spring break blowouts to relaxing wellness and spa retreats. But, no matter what the reason for visiting, many tourists can feel anxious about safety in the area and at the thought of dealing with Los Cabos Police. Thankfully, very few visitors will have direct contact with the Police in Los Cabos, and for the ones that do, many will have a neutral or positive experience. With that being said, there is some important information tourists should know.
Not All Police Forces Are Equal In Mexico
It’s important to know exactly which type of police you’re dealing with in Los Cabos. There are 3 main branches in the Mexican policing system; Municipal, State, and Federal Police (Guardia Nacional). The Municipal Police are who tourists are most likely to engage with.
The main duties of the Municipal Police are enforcing local laws and responding to low-level crimes such as pickpocketing and minor assault.
The second branch in the hierarchy is the State Police (Policia Estatal). Tourists are much less likely to engage with the state Police. Their duties are to deal with drug crime, violent crime, and the enforcement of arrest warrants on the state level.
At the top of the food chain is the National Guard (Guardia Nacional). This is a relatively new branch that joined the federal, military, and naval police together to create a unified national police force. The National Guard is a highly professional outfit.
These heavy hitters deal with organized crime in Mexico at the highest levels, as well as the protection and patrol of critically important areas.
What To Do If Asked To Pay A Fine
Your first line of defense in this situation is to stay calm, be respectful, and stick to the law. In doing this, the encounter is much more likely to go in your favor. If asked to pay a fine, insist that you would like an official citation (look for legitimate paperwork, not handwritten receipts) and would like to go to the nearest police station with them to pay the fine.
There is no system for paying spot fines in Mexico. These must always be paid at a police station.
Also, you can feel free to speak to the police in English. Even if you can speak a basic level of Spanish, this is a legal encounter and not the time for miscommunication. Los Cabos has many English-speaking officers, and the 911 dispatchers in the area are all English-speaking.
To best communicate during the encounter, it’s worth sticking to your own accent and language and not engaging in broken Spanish.
What Not To Do
It’s essential to remain calm and respectful in interactions with Los Cabos police. Being aggressive or argumentative is never the solution and only invites a similar response from the police. While in some states in Mexico, the police are known to use aggression with tourists, this isn’t the case in Los Cabos unless provoked and warranted.
Another simple piece of advice is to be patient. Telling the officer that you are in a hurry or have somewhere important to be can actually make the encounter last longer.
Should Tourists Be Worried?
No, tourists visiting Los Cabos should not be worried about police interactions. The vast majority of visitors will not be engaged by law enforcement, and those that are will mostly have a neutral or positive experience.
Los Cabos has a much healthier reputation for policing than the rest of Mexico and is improving at an impressive rate. And with Los Cabos being such an important tourist destination, the local government and police leadership are committed to improving the reputation of the police even further.
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