Thursday, 30 April 2009
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Monday, 20 April 2009
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Twas ever thus.
Kevin Gately was killed in a demo that turned ugly after a co-ordinated attack on police lines (you could hear the whistles blowing to set this in motion). A blow to the head was deemed the cause, but exactly how was never established; a kerb from a fall? a police truncheon? a scaffold pole used by demonstrators to charge at the police? Either which way, there were fights, truncheons used, mounted branch called into action. I was amazed that only one person died.
Public order in the face of violence and cleverly orchestrated mayhem isn’t achieved by the police waving lavender scented hankies about and saying `calm down`in a soothing voice. A totally passive crowd would not result in police batons being drawn. Conversely, as a crowd ramps up the `use of force meter` so the police response rises to meet it. A large crowd is a great place for the skilled agitators to lurk and whip up a frenzy. Inappropriate use of force brings with it trouble for the officer who transgresses, as it always did except for the fact that such things were rarely captured on cctv or mini videos - but if they ever show this footage of the anti-Vietnam war Grosvenor Square riot in 1968 you may see some stick happy police officer who, ultimately, got the sack.
The deaths of Kevin Gately and, later, Blair Peach were the terrible results of crowd trouble. Even if their deaths were as a result of the use of excessive force by police, it would have likely been a single police officer in each case. That no one responsible was ever traced is a fact that probably remains as a painful, still open chapter in the lives of the loved ones of the deceased. But emerging incidents from the G20 demo's that allege inappropriate use of force by police officers should not result in every other officer in the land being pilloried in the process.
Insufficient policing can lead to a breakdown in public order. Heavy handed totalitarian policing brings with it untold damage to our way of life (whatever that is now). In between these extremes are thousands of police doing their best along side a miniscule number who, in moments of high drama, do their worst or give in, John Prescott-style, to a sudden, pre-emptive action that they will later regret once the adrenaline has dissipated. Apart from that its pretty straightforward. To forgive is human, to err makes you police? Piss off, please.
Come to think of it, that thing with the lavender scented hankies has never been tried. Now there’s a thought?
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
For most officers, this is their first time outside of the middle class bubble. They have never seen a dead body, never seen life threatening injuries, never dealt with a family disturbance, never witnessed the shit some people call "home life", and never really understood the phrase "Man's Inhumanity To Man" until now. Everything is new to them. You can identify them by the amount of fancy new equipment they carry. A ten billion candlelight power torch, pens that write in the rain, a ballistic vest rated to stop tomahawk missiles, and an equipment bag large enough to house a squad of marines. They love it, they show up early for their shift. They work way past the end of their shift without even considering an O/T slip. They believe rank within the job is based only on ability and those in the upper ranks got there by knowledge and skill in police work only. They believe everyone is competent; everyone is on the same page and working towards the same high minded goals. When they finally go home to their significant other, they tell them everything they did and saw. Some of the more "eaten up" purchase a police scanner so they can hear the radio calls while at home. HOSTILITY STAGE Years 5 - 6
They now show up for work about 2 minutes before their shift, and they are hiding about 30 minutes before end of the shift, writing reports so they can just throw them in the sergeant's in-box and leave ASAP. They have to get to their second job to earn money to pay for the divorce that is pending. They gripe about everything, drink excessively, chase women, and hate the public, politicians, media, etc. They feel they have more in common with the hookers, thieves, druggies, etc. but hate them too. Those pens that write in the rain are no longer needed. Writing traffic tickets can be a lot more trouble than they are worth, even on a nice day. To write one, or to write anything while standing in the rain, is a sure sign of an insane person. Their spouse is no longer interested in hearing about all the gore and heartache. They get the "you spend more time with the cops than you do with me" speech.
SUPERIORITY STAGE Years 7 - 15 This is when cops are at their best. They have survived changes in administration. They know how the political game is played, both inside and outside the job. They know who they can trust and who they can't. They have select friends within the job, and stay away, as best they can, from the nuts and boot-lickers. They know the legal system, the judges, prosecutors, defence solicitors, etc. They know how to testify and put a good case together. They are usually the ones that the gaffers turn to when there is some clandestine request or sensitive operation that needs to be done right. These cops are still physically fit and can handle themselves on the street. They will stay around the station when needed, but have other commitments, such as a second spouse, a second girlfriend (sometimes both), and most of their friends are non job.
ACCEPTANCE STAGE Years 16 - Now the cops have a single objective... retirement and pension. Nothing is going to come between them and their monthly payslip. The boss, the force, the idiots around the station, and the creeps on the street can all go to hell, because they could come between them and "sitting on the beach". There is no topic of discussion that can't somehow lead back to retirement issues. These guys are usually sergeants, detectives, scenes of crime officers, community, or some other post where they will not be endangered. They especially don't want some young stupid cop getting them sued, fired, killed, or anything else causing them to lose their "beach time". They spend a lot of time having coffee, hanging around the station, and looking at brochures of things they want to do in retirement. The retired cop usually dies within five years of retirement, saving the force a bunch of money. Of course, nothing is ever 100% true, but if you are a cop, were a cop, or know a cop, then you will certainly recognize some of the above statements.