In the country where I live I see an annoyance. It is something I do not like at all, and I want it different.
If I were to want to see the company service, I’ll know where to find it. Take for instance a store selling mobile phones. I will know instantaneously where I will be able to find it as the service reaches out to me, and it needs to survive.
There is no such compulsion for law enforcement. As such “cops” are not society centered or ‘service’ oriented. Police people are caught in a secessionist, elitist, aloof-ist trap. Police stations are all hidden, centralized and hard to reach. In my city there is just one and it’s bloody annoying to get there. As a result all these cops are locked in a bunkered structure, where you have to make appointment and when you try, the cops responds with measurable annoyance. Or maybe even arrogance.
Cops don’t have a compelling reason to do any different – they need to save money, and they need to maintain their own organizational integrity, and they need to be efficient. And those who pay their budget make law enforcement do tne same – again, budgetary constraints, easy to implement (top down thinking) as a tool by those who pay the law enforcement (some ministry whose competence and realism we can at this stage debate) and considerations stemming back from a culture of authoritarian and very conservative (and clearly outdated) conceptions of what a ‘cop’ should be.
I disagree strongly.
We may face as a society considerable changes, and quite soon. I would strongly like to see law enforcement to be more integrated in society, and a lot more visible, accountable and accessible. Cops bunkering away in a remote building, or them being anything but really easily accessed, is utterly unacceptable and sinister.
Let’s start with a simple change – I live in city with some 100.000 people. I propose a target where law enforcement must create open, accessible, highly visible offices. Literally, branches of law enforcement with a very strong emphasis on brand recognition, visibility and transparancy. And these offices must be manned, even at night, by two officers.
This may seem like a massive waste of resources, but think about the benefits. It would entail ten buildings, much like stores (well illuminated, well situated, with big glass windows and storefront and a big logo) or gas stations. Preferably close to shopping centers. These would not be bunkers, or places with weapons storage, or cells. They would be service points. This would more or less force cops back on the street, back in to society, out of their state of isolation. People would instantly know “Oh right, iof there trouble there is where I can go”. It would also more or less force these cops to be far more service oriented.
They’d have to train to sit there, doing desk or other work they would otherwise be doing in their bunkers. What difference would it make in an era with web cams and internet where they work? Worst case scenario these cops would be 5 minutes drive apart.
Side effects would be that the presence of such service police stations would make stores in the immediate area feel more confident. They might stay open longer for one thing.
A police officer may think “holy shit, to have to sit in such a place, what an indignity” I ask immediately why? … You as a cop are paid to serve the public and provide people with a feeling of pervasive safety, accountability and trustworthiness. How much does the current paradigm of law enforcement inspire these feelings?