Thursday, 13 May 2010

Police and Thieves in the Street

Two policemen knocked on my door this afternoon while Dylan was asleep. At first I thought they're finally on to me but quickly it became clear they are looking for details on our ex next door neighbor, a guy who moved away long before we moved in and who has been wanted long before that. Obviously, the police are in a hot pursuit.
After finishing their grueling inquest, one of the policeman has asked me for my name in order to put it on the record. Upon me pronouncing my name I couldn't help but notice the other policeman sneering at this grossly "bloody foreigner" type of a name. Which, I have to say, has annoyed me even more than the risk of them waking Dylan up.
The point I am trying to make is that my interactions with the Aussie police force thus far do not lead me to a position where I can claim I will gladly put my faith in them. I have seen them abuse their powers quite often (usually in the context of traffic law) and, as this example demonstrates, being a policeman does not preclude you from being a bit of an ignorant bigot.
Where is this discussion leading me to? Both main political parties are preparing their messages for the upcoming state elections. Both main political parties have promised to significantly boost police force numbers in an effort to curb Melbourne's rising crime (or at least curb the news headlines generated after weekend nights of boozing; with all the mayhem these headlines generate it's hard to tell whether there is a crime wave in the first place). Thing is, will having more police mean us being generally safer? I sort of doubt it. I definitely see how more police will mean more fines for silly traffic offenses, and I definitely see how more police could anger certain demographics (e.g., the bloody foreigners), but I don't see how more police equals less crime.
In contrast, I do see research disassociating police numbers and crime levels. I am also of the opinion that prevention is much better. As in, instead of investing in police to deter us, shouldn't we invest directly in our communities? Shouldn't we invest in better education? Just dealing with alcohol and drugs alone should prevent the vast majority of crimes taking place in Melbourne from ever being on the agenda.

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