Monday, August 27, 2007

Câline de blues...

Don't get me wrong.. I respect the police. They do a tough job, an often thankless one, but also a necessary one. At least, most cops do.

My uncle was a cop, a true blue cliché if there ever was one, a big burly Irish redhead. Loved to hunt and fish. Coached kids in swimming in his spare time, helped out with the Boy Scouts. Worked as a patrolman, and then as a detective in some fairly tough neighbourhoods in Montreal, an Anglo in a predominantly and increasingly French-speaking force. He was decorated, too, and he was always good for a few stories, too. And he built a mean campfire. He died before I really got to know him as an adult, but the stories remain. He was a good, tough, fair cop. And by all accounts he was a good, tough, fair man.

The other week, I called the local cops here in Poodledale, to complain about some kids who had been zipping up and down and up and down our street on their annoying little pocket bikes, those pissant little unmufflered gnats having buzzed around our house for most of what should have been a peaceful Sunday afternoon.

Of course, these things are as illegal as hell, since they not only lack mufflers, but any sort of lights. And they're so tiny they're almost invisible to the average motorist. Not that I necessarily wanted anyone busted (although a sharp rap with a nightstick on one of those unhelmeted heads might have been amusing), but I figured it would be nice to have at least a little peace and quiet on a rare day off (I usually work weekends).

I finally got through to the local cops. After I identified myself to Officer Mumblemumble, and jumping through all those identification verification hoops (the cops, of all people, don't have caller ID?), I was allowed to explain my problem.

He listened, grunted, listened. "And what do you want us to do about it?" finally came the reply.

A couple of answers sprang to mind, "Your job" being the most obvious. But I simply stammered out the suggestion that they send a car over to check things out. Please?

As far as I know, they never did. The buzzing continued until well after dark. And started up again around noon the next Saturday.

In the ever more-macho-than-thou world of modern policing (and the jacked-up fear factor we keep being sold), it seems to me that the first half of "To serve and protect" is too often being sacrificed.

Society be damned; the new scoreboards on how we're doing are apparently the prisons. The more of them there are, and the more over-crowded they are, the higher we rate.

For all the doom-and-gloom the local paper trucks in, you'd think the Antelope Valley was downtown Baghdad or something, an open, festering sore of gun battles, drugs, rape, child molesters and murder, with the poor, under-armed, under-manned police constantly under seige by barbarians from "down below," as the locals describe Los Angeles -- an euphemism that as often as not simply means "non-white."

Would I have seen action sooner if I'd lived in a better neighbourhood? If I'd been better connected, maybe a real estate developer or one of the mayor's good buddies? If I'd suggested these mini-Hell's Angels were black or illegal immigrants or renters?

Or Democrats?

I don't know. I hardly ever see the cops, as it is, except when they used to park their patrol cars on the closed-off street behind our house to catch a nap, or when they're setting up a speed trap by one of the schools in the west (ie: white) end of town, or when the head cop is on the tube explaining why he decided to spring poor Paris early.

I'm sorry, but if most modern day police work has come down to cops shooting it out with the bad guys on the streets, both sides playing out some bullshit cinematic macho cowboy fantasy, then we've already failed.

Maybe if we were served better, we wouldn't need to be protected so much.

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