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if left up to policemen most of us would be in jail just to make sure



commentary • 04.03.04  

I have never been very fond of policemen. While I appreciate they do a necessary job I suspect they create as many problems as they solve. I think the job attracts the very people who probably shouldn’t be allowed to do it.

I find it hard to imagine anyone going into the police who didn’t have personality issues around power. They routinely show authoritarian tendencies which allows them to fit comfortably into a vertical hierarchy. Here they can kow-tow to superiors as well as lay the heavy hand on those they consider beneath them. If a person doesn’t lean in that direction when joining the police, they no doubt will soon enough.

I hate the way the police consider everyone a potential criminal and appear to waste huge resources reprimanding people who present no harm to society whatsoever other than in the most trivial way. This while serious perpetrators go unchecked. If it was left up to policemen most of us would be in jail just to make sure.

Thank God for liberal institutions whose place in the modern world allows power to be restricted. It’s maybe true that too much burden of proof is upon the legal system sometimes and means that the guilty can go without censure. But the alternative is too horrendous to contemplate: dumb, authoritarian men with dodgy psychological profiles and a reduced capacity for discernment telling everybody what to do.

Anywhere power is vested you’ll find it abused. This is nowhere more true than police forces around the world. Only strong liberal democracies with systemic limitations mitigate against abuses wherever they are. Without that we would all be getting a knock on the door on a regular basis.