The street cops in England don’t carry guns. They still wear pointy hats that you can see in a crowd if you need them. They are approachable. There’s still the Sweeney, the riot guys, the plain clothes, the gun carrying security in military gear and of course the straight military. These are not there for you to approach.
The street cops in South America, well you can’t really tell they’re cops; they all wear military style uniforms flak jackets and very big guns. They could be cops or they could be military, para-military, customs, private security, gov, CIA, or whatever. They are never approachable. They do have the friendlier looking “tourist police”. They hang out in hotels and airports and train stations, but if you go near them then you will notice the same old para-military gun toters pretty close behind them.
And then there are the cops in Victoria. Riding bikes in their shorts, friendly, approachable and helpful, even if you just need the nearest washroom! Just like the cops used to be everywhere, just there to help to keep the traffic and the crowds flowing smoothly; to lend a ready assistance if needed and to serve and protect us face to face, in the flesh, at our request. No armoured patrol cars, no cut down shotguns, no mace, no tazers and no flak jackets, face shields and body armour.
I can see why it’s all changing, why the police are starting to hide behind their armour and their guns but that armour is only widening the gap between them being there to provide help and assistance and them being there only to tell us only what we can and cannot do! I understand that they, the police have to be protected, but at what a cost.
I think it’s a fault and a problem within our government that is the root of this dilemma. They are encouraging a state of mind among the population of fear and mistrust. They are then manipulating the body armoured police to emphasize that state of mind. They are promoting an ambition of militaristic nationalism and xenophobia. This ambition is being echoed and reinforced in the uniforms and military grade weapons and tactical equipment of our police force.
How long will it be before the amalgamation and the interaction of the police and the military becomes so close and so intertwined that we too have a South American system wherein the uniforms all look the same and our police are indistinguishable from our military. Unapproachable and hiding behind their riot shields. Who will we turn to for help then? God help us all when the last Victoria cop hangs up his bicycle clips and picks up his automatic rifle.
image from: http://Police Grand-Ducale: http://www.police.public.lu/
I trust the police here. Perhaps not as an abstract body, but I do on an individual basis. I don’t trust the politicians. I don’t trust THEM as individuals. So maybe we could put body cameras on them instead of our police? Let’s see how they would enjoy being scrutinised all and every day?
The next time they sign a restaurant bill we could get to see it. The next time they do their boy’s club macho stuff, we could get to see it. The next time they do their backroom deals with lobbyists and “party sponsers” we could get to see it. The next time they phone in “sick”from their fishing resort …etc etc…..
Besides, if you really think about it, who would the body cameras be actually watching?