I am now back to working on this blog full time. The past few days I have been working on a different project and it has finally come to a completion so the updates will once again resume.
Friday night I had the opportunity to do a ride along with a local police force in Tegucigalpa to witness the enforcement of the curfew. Curfew hours were from 11:00 PM through 04:30 AM. A little after the commencement of the nightly curfew, I was able to load up in one of the police trucks and take off on patrol.
The streets were quite well before the beginning of the curfew. The officer in charge (OIC) called each of the checkpoints on the radio and asked for a situation report. One of the checkpoints called in they had a vehicle pulled over, and so the OIC instructed the driver to take the vehicle to that checkpoint.
The checkpoint was being held at a main thoroughfare, consisting of one police truck and the crew inside. While one of the officers was questioning the civilian that they had whistled to the side of the road, the remaining elements of the team were standing on the street corner watching and waiting for any more traffic to appear. After some questioning, the driver was told to continue home and reminded of the curfew hours.
We loaded back up into the truck, and continued on with our patrol. I noticed that we kept passing groups of people walking down the road, yet we never stopped and questioned them. I asked the OIC why we did not stop to question those individuals. He told me that they were employees at a local business that were just getting off of work, and that there was no need to question them. Since they were returning back to their homes after work, they didn't present a risk and that they are allowed to continue with their business. The people they were looking for were drunks, vandals, and troublemakers.
With the streets quite, the OIC decided to take the patrol to the poorest neighborhood in his area of operation. It was interesting how once we left the commercial district and better off neighborhoods and continued to the poor neighborhoods, the amount of graffiti on the buildings dropped drastically, almost to the point of being non-existent. During the patrol, the truck had it's lights in operation, but once we entered the poor neighborhood, the lights were turned off. They explained that they shut the lights off in this neighborhood so they do not create a scene. In the past, they have patrolled with their vehicle lights on, and some of the residents began throwing rocks and glass bottles at the vehicle. They were not their to disturb the residents, and so we continued through the neighborhood without any incidents.
Close to the end of the patrol, we returned to the original checkpoint, where they had pulled over a teenager who was out past curfew. The teenager was out with his friend just cruising around, with full knowledge of the curfew. The police looked at the teenagers personal and vehicular documents, and made the decision to bring him back to the police station where he would remain until the cessation of the curfew. It was a little after midnight at this time, and the OIC told the team at the checkpoint to escort the teenager back to the police station and call it a night (the teenager did not leave his vehicle abandoned in the street, he was allowed to drive behind the patrol truck to the station).
On our way back the OIC explained that they had been pulling the checkpoints off the streets around midnight every night. They manned temporary posts to show their presence, but would not remain on the streets for the nights entirety.
Back at the station, the other patrol trucks began showing up, where the teams would remain for the duration of the night, ready to be dispatched at a moments notice. I thanked the OIC for allowing me the opportunity of the ride along, and was given a ride back to my hotel for the night.
Curfew restrictions were lifted today in Tegucigalpa, showing one more step to normalcy.