Saturday, December 17, 2011

If you're not cop, you're little people.

Sadly, this belief seems to be deeply ingrained within some of our law enforcement brothers (and sisters). Worse, it is all too evident in some whose position is in a 'customer service' role. They are the first contact a citizen has with the constabulary, when coming forth to make a complaint.

You'd think that perhaps that perhaps the police might give these staff some special training in regards to effectively dealing with the public in a manner that won't alienate or mariginalise them?


I'm quite often down at the central station filling out requests for official information etc, and witnessed this particular exchange a few days ago.

Desk Officer:  Next.
Distraught Citizen: Can you please help me? I'm the victim of a crime... [hands documents over to officer]
Desk Officer: [flicking desutorily through papers] This is a civil matter. This is a civil matter. This is a civil matter.
Distraught Citizen: But...
Desk Officer: This isn't a police matter.
Distraught Citizen: But...
Desk Officer: Next!
Distraught Citizen: But...
Desk Officer: NEXT!

Alright, so that may not be the conversation verbatim, but it's pretty much the way it played out. As I was standing there, the Distraught Citizen slumped her shoulders and sulked out of the station, dejected and rejected by the very authority whom she entreated in her moment of woe.

Just how hard could it have been to explain the difference between a civil and criminal matter and just why the police could not be of further assistance? Perhaps even a quick pointer as to where the complainant might be better served making enquiries?

That would be customer service!

No, obviously the best thing to do is to marginalise the very people who depend on you and who you, in turn, turn to for help in investigations and wonder why the public have such a low opinion of you...

Well done.

Of course, this also extends to so-called 'partnerships' between the police and businesses such as initiatives to reduce crime. Information rarely flows both ways. I am confronted with this on an almost daily occurence in my capacity as investigator for a number of insurance companies where, usually, I am looking into dodgy claims that may involve criminal activity such as theft or arson.

Do the police, under the guise of a 'partnership to reduce crime' bend over backwards to assist? Of course not, nor would I really expect them to. I would, however, expect some degree of amicable cooperation or even studied indifference. I wouldn't expect hostility or blatant interference.

It's rather sad. I thought we were on the same team.

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