Damien on… The Police
The justice enforcement concept, not the ’70s pop group.
Although one does wonder why Sting and his chums CHOSE that name? I know their drummer’s Dad had headed the CIA, but still. I recall a campaign of graffiti on the North London Line, which consisted simply of the words “The Police” being daubed all over.
And since this was over a year before the budding London super- group went national, let alone international, it CONFUSED those who weren’t into the London club scene. I mean – the police WHAT? If the sprayings had read “F*** The Police” it would have been mundane.
Anyhoo, this piece concerns the OTHER Police – “At night the super- human crew arrest everyone who knows more than they do” (Bob Dylan, I think). THOSE guys.
My alter-ego, Morpheus has already written about the American inJustice System (see “Morpheus on… Cops With Guns” in “The World According To Morpheus” – click onto it in the bogroll, on the top right of this column – after you’ve finished THIS!) so I will limit myself to their counterparts in Britain and here in Thailand.
British cops are as rubbish as their brothers across the water. They spend most of their time cruising around in cars, pestering motorists. And about the only time they get OUT of them is to kick down the door of someone using recreational drugs.
They used to patrol the streets on foot, wearing their “tall hats”. These were particularly useful as they added height to those who’d only just made the limit. And they were unarmed. They maintained that the funny hats and lack of guns enabled them to maintain the respect of the public.
Sadly those days are now long gone. The tall hats have been replaced by peaked caps – meaning now, they are indistinguishable from traffic wardens, theatre commissionaires and chauffeurs. And a lot of them now carry GUNS.
This last is particularly unfortunate, since, like Yank cops, they have no IDEA when and when NOT to use them. Cases in point: a while back, there was the luckless Brazilian plumber (see other article) but he was nothing new. Back around 1970 a couple in a Mini, returning home from a movie – suddenly found themselves IN one. Right there in central London, in a scene like the climax of “Bonnie And Clyde”, they were surrounded by a bunch of cops who started blazing away into their car.
And just like with the Brazilian plumber – they had the wrong car.
It was only thanks to the incompetent marksmanship of these clowns that the couple survived the assault. It was all hushed up, of course. The couple received undisclosed damages – but no doubt their nightmares persist…
In addition to the increase in gun-play, another worrying trend in British inJustice is the new, modified “caution”. When I was a kid, it bemused me when, on TV, a cop would get up into the witness box and solemnly read out something like, “I apprehended the accused with the goat and the equipment. He was naked and…(etc.) I asked him to explain his actions… HE MADE NO REPLY.”
I always used to think, “Well surely, given the circumstances, he must have said SOMETHING.”
But of course, as a ten-year-old, I was unfamiliar with the “caution”, which goes, “You are not obliged to say anything, but I must warn you that anything you do say may be taken down and used as evidence against you.” The reply, “Your trousers!” is frowned upon.
And at that tender age, I also didn’t appreciate the importance of the BASIC PRINCIPLE of every citizen’s right to allow the cops to make their case without help from an over-emotional blabbermouth who has been caught with HIS trousers down – so to speak.
But again, sadly THOSE days have gone as well. Now the “caution” has a rider, which goes – “…but I must warn you that it may harm your defence if you fail to mention something now, which you may later rely on as evidence in court.”
Personally, I would say, “I have nothing to say at this time without legal representation, as anything I might say could be taken out of context and used by the police to harm my defence.” So THERE!
Which brings us to the Thai cops – the best police money can buy! I LIKE the Thai cops. They stay out of your hair – and if you do fall foul of the law, provided you don’t disrespect them and slide a little “tea money” their way – SMALL indiscretions can usually be forgotten.
In fact, in an attempt to cut DOWN the “tea money” the underpaid upholders of the law were demanding, the government passed a law ALLOWING them to keep a percentage of legitimate spot-fines, LEGALLY. It is put into the bank and shared out amongst the officers at the station, once a year – just before New Year.
However in a large station, this can amount to serious money. Which lead to a case last New Year, where an officer was sent to the bank to pick up the year’s tea money and bring it back to the station, for divvying up. He picked up the money alright – but that was the last anybody saw or heard of him!
This story was reported on a local ex-pat website – and some wag remarked, “Things have come to a pretty poor point when even the POLICE can’t trust the police!”