HAND THE POLICE CASH AND YOUR PROBLEM IS GONE

Remko Tanis • 17 January 2019

Anywhere else this would set alarm bells ringing for corruption waiting to happen. Not in Switzerland, at least not yet. Not that this place is holier than thou, but clearly this is not where people expect bribes to start flying high.

Back up. It’s about this:

Starting next year, when police in Switzerland catch you committing a small offense, you can pay the fine in cash to the police officer. Handing over the money right then and there means the officer won’t take down your details (name, address, etcetera).

Fined for climbing a street sign? Pay cash and it never happened. Street Parade in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

Fined for climbing a street sign? Pay cash and it never happened. Street Parade in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

That means your violation won’t be going into the system at the office of the public prosecutor either, so there won’t be any record of what you’ve done.

The bad, bad thing you did just vanishes into thin air if you cough up the cash at the scene of the crime.

Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger lists some of the violations for which you could start seeing police holding up their hand if they catch you.

Caught illegally dumping trash? Pay the fine directly in cash and no-one has to know. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

Caught illegally dumping trash? Pay the fine directly in cash and no-one has to know. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

  • Smoking in public buildings: 80 Swiss Francs (one CHF equals about one USD)

  • Crossing the street a short distance from a crosswalk: CHF 10

  • Carrying a loaded weapon: CHF 300 (…??)

  • Letting your dog poach around: CHF 150

  • Off piste skiing in a hunting area: CHF 150

  • Using your phone while cycling: CHF 40

  • Waterskiing using an elastic rope: CHF 40

Seems like an overall alright idea to reduce paperwork. Violators are promised to get a receipt from an officer if they pay cash. That should be all the paper that gets involved.

All of this reminded me of Lu Jianfu, a Chinese cameraman who spends his days off filming police officers violating the rules in his hometown of Zhengzhou. I went on patrol with Jianfu, as he explained it’s his small contribution to fighting rampant corruption in the police force. Read that feature here.

Lu Jianfu filming an illegally parked police car in Zhengzhou, China. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

Wonder what his opinion is about the Swiss system of paying your fines in cash to a cop directly, no further questions asked. He might just think it’s nothing special, as something like that has been going on in his hometown since forever.

Lu Jianfu questioning a cop in an illegally parked police car in Zhengzhou, China. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis