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[This is the first entry in SD on the QT's week-long "Instant Justice" series.]

New Program Would Allow Errant Motorists to Give Government Alms and Get On Home

"A fine? That's fine!"

The practice of la mordida -- "the bite" -- has been going on for almost as long as there has been a border between the United States and Mexico. By now, it's almost routine: you drive into Mexico, a cop pulls you over and spins a flimsy story about how he's going to have to impound your car and fine you thousands of dollars for your largely imaginary misdeeds, you pay him $50 to "take care of the fine right here," and everybody drives away happy. The cop gets a nice bonus, and you don't have to spend the night in a Tijuana jail. The system works.

And yet, despite massive deficits in the California budget and the looming prospect of slashed departmental budgets in city police stations across the state, many American cops have shied away from the time-honored and lucrative practice of their Mexican brothers-in-law-enforcement. That is, until now.

Citing the fine response to the city's July 4 weekend "Instant Justice" initiative, which allowed recipients of non-traffic citations to work them off with five hours of trash pickup, San Diego Police Captain Albert Guaderrama today announced that the program would be expanded to include traffic citations. Also, recipients who wish to avoid working off their speeding tickets or DUIs with hundreds of hours of community service will be able to settle their cases with an "upfront fine."

"The way we see it, who wouldn't pay $6,000 to avoid dealing with the hassle of a DUI?" explained Guaderrama. "And with the new insta-pay technology available on the SDPD App [now available from iTunes], violators can just swipe their cards and be on their way!"

"It's about time," said Tijuana Police Chief Gustavo Huerta Martinez when he heard about the new policy. "For too long, American police forces have been confused about their role in society. They go on and on about upholding the law, but their real job is to keep the peace. They can't do that if they're chronically underfunded. It creates intolerable working conditions -- and San Diego has seen the effects of that in the dramatic misbehavior of its own police force." (Here, Martinez was undoubtedly referring to the dozen or so San Diego officers recently accused of misconduct.)

"Hopefully, this new policy - or rather, this new adoption of Tijuana's old policy - will ease the strain, and also clarify the department's vision."

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