It might be a small thing, but abuse of power even on this scale has impacts on the level of trust that the community puts in its Police Service. Without the community’s trust, the Police will be seen to have failed in their role.Yeah, it’s a parking misdemeanor. But it’s not a one-off.
Last Saturday night I was catching up with friends in a neighbourhood that I used to live in and we went to the old Thai favourite. Two Police Officers came in, quite friendly guys and returned my nod greeting.
When my partner and I used to eat at this Thai joint regularly, it was usual for a squad car to pull up and place a dinner order at some stage. The food is good quality and quite cheap, so why not?
The other thing we came to notice was where the Officers parked. Every time, without fail. Across the road, on the street corner. Next to the ‘No Stopping’ sign.
And so, sure enough, that’s where the Officers where parked last Saturday. We used to grumble about taking a photo and sending it to… someone… to complain. The Ombudsman or the local station commander or something.
This time I thought ‘bugger it’, and took the photo. See the image above.
Why does it matter that the Police use a ‘No Stopping’ zone as their reserved parking spot at their regular dinner haunt? Because that ‘No Stopping’ zone is there because it has been designated as an unsafe place to park. It would be different in an emergency situation. But, no. They were picking up a feed.
Is this corruption? No. Is it an abuse of power, an abuse of the privilege that we provide Police because of their particular role in society? Absolutely, yes.
All this because they are too friggin’ lazy to walk an extra 30 metres to pick up a meal.
What message does it send that Police Officers can flout the laws simply because they feel they can get away with it? It says laws are only relevant unless we, too, think we can get away with it. We could possibly get away with breaking the law because we are quick, because no-one is looking, or because we think we can intimidate anyone who knows what we did into keeping quiet. Or for any number of other reasons.
Theses aren’t the values that we entrust the Police to promote.
I suppose it is possible that it is lawful for Police to use a “No Stopping” zone in this way. If it is, it shouldn’t be because the same message is being sent.
Scales of Justice, you ask? Check out the first episode for a lesson on slippery moral slopes.