Police – respectable or unprincipled?
Many outsiders consider the British police force to be very strange – here you have the body responsible for upholding law and order, yet practically none of the individuals concerned carry a gun. A hearty truncheon maybe, a taser, maybe a canister of pepper spray, but no gun.
And that is what endears so many of us Brits to our own police – they are not out looking for a fight, and the statistics confirm this. In 2018, America saw 1,000 people killed by law enforcement, compared to three, yes, just three in England and Wales. Each incident of that nature is reviewed with painstaking diligence. Every single time a British police officer shoots and injures or kills someone, he or she is automatically referred to an independent watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It’s often not a pretty process, and certainly not a short one.
Whilst far from perfect, I’m still very proud of the way the British have found a solution that is largely viewed as the right balance between keeping policing community-oriented and keeping the nation safe. Whilst most of our “bobbies” on the beat never carry guns, highly-trained armed response teams are never too far away. It’s the classic British compromise, and I think it works pretty well.
However, as in most organisations of this type, there will always be a bad egg or two who mess up, and whenever that happens, public trust in the force is compromised. Two decades ago, a report found “institutionalised racism” throughout the Metropolitan Police force, that’s the body that looks after London. Right now there are demonstrations and protests directed at police for its use of the “stop and search” policy. Four times as many black people are stopped and searched than white people. Those kind of statistics do not make good reading.
There are still far too few officers from ethnic minorities, and I feel there is still a long way to go before British policing is truly reflective of the communities they serve.
But despite this, some two-thirds of the population in Britain still trust the police, even though that figure is down from 80 per cent back in the 1960s. It also means that one-third don’t, which is worrying.
The underlying factor is that most police officers do a pretty dangerous job extremely well and efficiently. The force must clean up parts of its policy that are not functioning properly right now, and then trust and respect will increase.
The job gets harder every day, and the public ever-more demanding, and ever-more less respectful towards those in authority.
But I would not want any other country’s police force anywhere near the British Isles.
Police: respected or unprincipled?
Historically, in Russia the state has always, for centuries, been something oppressive, something that dominates ordinary folk, the nation. Police is one of the instruments of it, amongst many.
So ‘an honest cop’ is not a Russian story. Maybe an American, or a British or a German.
You can’t have an honest cop when the whole state, be it the Empire, the Communists or today’s Russia, is dishonest.
When I hear stories about US police being too… harsh I would say, I laugh at it. You guys live, luckily, in a different world. I wish we in Russia had a police force, like you guys do: respected by the most people, 98 per cent honest, self-respecting. You’ve got nothing to whine about, really.
Yes, in Soviet times the militia, or police, had been a respected institute. True. This was destroyed in the 90s when police, according to the polls, were more a threatening thing to people, then to a mob. You might have gotten into more trouble communicating to police than to thugs.
Now, I must admit, under late Putin, the police has improved a lot. True. No street bribes the Third World way, etc. No cheap cheating. No fear, at last. Even some respect.
Still, you don’t need to mess around with the cops anywhere in the world. Probably in the West your rights would be more protected later in the court, but for God’s sake, don’t mess up with the police on site: if they stick to you then something is wrong already. Be cool, respective, not aggressive. To me, this is a common rule.
It is not even a question of police being respected or unprincipled. Just you first show them some respect, even insincere one – then you would be OK. Because police everywhere in the world are respect-sensitive minds. Take it into account.
You don’t do it – they’ve got a very good reason to press you for their own pleasure, legally, depending on the local cultural code.
But if you obey those simple rules you will put yourself into more safety. Doesn’t matter where you are: Moscow, London, Chicago or… Mombasa.
Welcome to the real Mayberry.
Being old and pathetic does come with certain advantages. For example, I have interacted with police from quite a few places. I can report that these contacts have been mostly positive.
I imagine most police are politically to the right of the general population: law and order guys. While I don’t think most join to crack a few skulls, I don’t think most join to serve the community either. From their perspective it is about making the streets safe and I define safe in the Trumpian sense of the word. Mayberry, South Carolina is a place and time that never existed. You do have to admire them in a way, fighting for a dream.
I wouldn’t be a cop. If I were I would be terrible at it; spending all my time trying to help folks would not fulfil my traffic citation quota for the month. I’m sure I would be fired or maybe banished to the halls of the local High School… openly mocked by pimply sixteen year old boys. No thanks.
Unless you live in a cave, you know there is a move to defund the police in the US. If you think that’s the answer, I understand housing is cheap in Mayberry. The police are not the cause of crime and they are required for public safety, there must be another way.
There are things the police do they shouldn’t. Let’s imagine a degenerate officer named Dean. Fred has a problem with alcohol and gets wasted maybe four times a week and its Officer Dean’s beat, so Dean has to get him. Now, what the hell do you expect Dean to do with drunk Fred? He has already taken Fred to the hospital a couple of times but mostly he is forced to arrest him and book him into jail.
Obviously, Fred has a real problem and Officer Dean is never going to solve it. So the cycle continues until one night Dean is sick of it, snaps and whips Fred’s ass. That will teach him a lesson: Except it won’t. The cycle continues.
Too many of the calls the police go on are some variation of the above. People who need help get thrown into the criminal justice system because we have no facilities to solve the problem. Our jails choke on drug addicts who will never get the help they need. Homeless who panhandle and piss in people’s doorways get a warm bed for the night, in jail. I read that most homeless are in reality mental patients who remain undiagnosed. Welcome to the real Mayberry; where the police and the town’s folk are angry.
I’ll close with a program I’ve read about several times: CAHOOTS . This is what I hope comes from the protest, not quite defunding but real change none-the-less and it’s a good first step.