Before I kick off with the main points of this article, I will cover some background issues/disclaimers/disclosures:
- I am not a current, nor former member, of any police force.
- I do not have, and have not had, any relatives in the police, though a cousin (by marriage) was the Chief Justice of Queensland until July 2014. He is now the Governor of Queensland.
- Some family members and close friends are/were former members of the British (& foreign) Security Services and/or military, including Intelligence & Special Forces – as such, they had some ‘policing’ roles.
- When I was a teenager I got into trouble with the police.
- I have been busted for speeding in 1979 and 2001, and started driving in 1976 at age 14 (the locale where I lived at the time allowed 14 year olds to ride unrestricted motorcycles up to 100cc).
- I am a keen supporter of the police.
- I have advocated for harsher penalties for speeding offences.
- During the ‘Cold War’ I assisted people who were suffering human rights abuses behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was of course then very much a ‘police state’. I am not a supporter of such police states.
- I have a top no claims bonus rating on my motor vehicle insurance.
- My first, and last, at fault motor vehicle insurance claim was in 1981.
- I obtained a car license in 1979.
- I have a policy of not driving at all if I have ANY alcohol in my system. Even below the legally allowed limit of 0.05, my driving ability is impaired (probably partly because I have a low alcohol tolerance due to rare consumption). I do not wish to endanger myself or other road users.
- Driving history includes driving a 10 ton truck, a six wheeled amphibious vehicle and a tracked armoured vehicle (APC).
- My local police command is the Queensland Police Service (QPS).
Some years ago I came across a quote, by an unknown author:
“A society that makes war against its police had better learn to make friends with criminals.”
This quote is at the core of my article.
You see, it is so easy to take the police for granted, to see the police as ‘killjoys’ and ‘spoilsports’; yet the police do a great deal for us which goes unnoticed, and unappreciated.
To illustrate the point, let’s look at how things might be if there were no police.
A good example is what happened in the town of Aberystwyth, West Wales, United Kingdom. The articles I have linked to below relate the story in detail, however the basic point is that due to a bureaucratic mix up, the town was left without traffic wardens. The result was chaos as selfishness surfaced and parking ‘law & order’ disappeared. Many people were glad when traffic wardens returned. Traffic wardens are of course not police, however they are ‘authority’ and in a sense, a kind of police.
I quote from one of the articles: “a survey revealed that traffic wardens were the profession most hated by the British public”.
Personally, I like traffic wardens.
Because traffic wardens mean I can get a park and am not hindered unduly by a bunch of selfish bastards.
I like the police for similar reasons, and more.
The police look after society, keeping the criminals and other selfish assholes under pressure.
Because of the police, we live a relatively peaceful and safe lifestyle.
Without the police we would have to befriend the criminals to get ‘help’.
The police have a tough job. Beside dealing with some extremely nasty, and sometimes dangerous people, they have to clear up after horrific events, work nights and public holidays, and put up with multitudes in society who at best do not appreciate them, and at worst hate them.
The police do a lot that you will never become aware of. Many police operations do not get publicity, yet we as a society benefit from reduced serious crime, reduced terrorism and more.
Now, some will like to point out that there are bad police and that there has been/is corruption. It is a fact of life that every profession has its ‘bad apples’. Places like the Soviet Union give us a good example of what is wrong with a ‘police state’ and the importance of having checks and balances to prevent such abuses. All this does not mean however that we do not need the police, or that the police should not have widespread public support and appreciation.
Have you considered that at times the police can save you from yourself? And that is a good thing?
I have a personal example of this…
You see, I have a policy of not speeding, despite having a powerful car and thinking that some speed limits are poorly thought out. My car is very comfortable and smooth however, and accordingly easily accelerates quickly without it being overly obvious to the occupants. I had a tendency to, with a clear and open road, to accelerate up to the speed limit promptly so that I was doing the limit and thus maximizing time savings without breaking the law. I noticed that this meant that I often made the next set of lights in time to cross legally (and without speeding), along with numerous people who were speeding, thus I saved even more time. At times I reflected philosophically on how heavy enforcement of speed limits nowadays had contributed to a situation where some people had an increased desire to get up to the speed limit sooner. Anyway, I was surprised to get pulled over by a motorcycle cop while cruising at 80kph in an 80 zone. I did not receive a ticket, however I was told off. He had noticed me accelerating quickly at an earlier junction. I was very grateful for the officer stopping me and pointing this out. I told him I appreciated it and thanked him. Sometimes we need to have our ‘chain yanked’ and shortcomings pointed out. The officer assumed I had been speeding in an earlier 70kph (I had not been), I guess because of his road offender profiling experience and this to some extent will have influenced his desire to stop me. (As it happens, I had accelerated faster than normal because I suspected the person in the next lane, who had come to a heavy stop over the line after erratically cruising down the hill, might have been drinking and I wanted to get clear, rather than be behind/alongside him/her and at higher risk. I never got the chance to tell the police officer this).
As a result of my traffic stop by the police officer, I immediately reflected on the situation and changed my accelerating policy. I could see that there were some ‘holes’ in my thinking, partly due to the ‘cocoon like’ nature of my car. It also caused me to reflect on my attitudes toward personal time management (part of my work includes helping people become more productive).
Anyway, I am extremely grateful for that police officer. Among other things, he helped me to grow and to improve both my driving and my thinking.
One has to be able to ‘walk the talk’. Can you? Do you appreciate it when someone tells you that you are wrong?
One unfortunate consequence of my traffic stop was that it may have resulted in a suspected drunk driver being able to continue on his/her ‘merry’ way. Which brings me to my last point…one of the ways we can support the police and enable them to deploy their limited resources at ‘higher value targets’, is to ‘toe the line’ and not waste their time – these days, there are an increasingly number of people in the community who mean us a great deal of harm.
In conclusion then, I extend my thanks, gratitude and appreciation to all honorable police officers everywhere. Blessings for the festive season and New Year.