Matt Asay has this funny and innocent post about a new initiative from the London Police. In short you can become a non-paid-volunteer police officer (they are called Special Constables) provided you can free 8 hours over a period of 2 weeks.
There are basically 2 ways to look at such initiative:
- Cynical: If you're in a hard-core and violent neighborhood and unemployed, why don't you join big brother instead of being watched yourself and get an opportunity to denounce your neighbors rather than standing idle smoking pot all day long and dreaming of your next quick-money scam?
- Optimistic: Why not contribute to reconciling police with citizens through some kind of proximity initiative in difficult neighborhoods where there is often a blatant disconnect between police forces and socially challenged people?
So I went to the website and snooped around (click on the picture above to see the banner):
First there is this interesting motivation banner that tells you why you should apply. The arguments go this way: Special constables are volunteer police officers
- They have the same uniform
- Translation: If you have low self esteem (or too many holes in your jeans) here is one to boost your ego
- They have the same powers and responsibilities
- Translation: Nobody will step on your feet anymore: you're in charge!
- They help police London:
- Translation: Ever dreamed of forming a militia? Here is your chance!
- Discover what it feels like to be a special constable yourself
- Translation: Do you feel it? Arrrgggh do you feel it? Feel the poooower!
Ok, so obviously they know how to attract the best people with the right motivations... Seriously why would you try attracting people with such weird border-line motivations?
Let's look at the application process itself. The application form goes as follow:
- Do NOT send a CV
- Translation: Your real professional background is of little importance
- You must provide a clear color picture of all of your tattoos
- Translation: Hope the same tattoo is not worn by a known (or future) felon
- You must accept to have a DNA sample taken
- Translation: Unlike real police officers... Yup you know, just in case you left a few cells at the wrong place
- You can fill up a form (for the purpose of balanced workforce) that discloses your age, your sexual orientation, your religion and of course your ethnic background. Ok, but look at the options you're given:
- You're not just white but Irish, British or Other
- You're not just Asian but Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani or Other
- You're not just Homosexual, Heterosexual or other (as a matter of fact there is no option called Homosexual): you're Heterosexual, Gay/lesbian (not only homosexual but militant, I suppose), Bisexual or Prefer Not to say (convenient if acting on your sexual orientation is illegal in UK)
So the question is: what happens to all this information if your tattoo is worn by the wrong guy? What happens if your DNA was left on this bag you throw out on what you didn't know was a (passed or future) crime scene? Do they really discard "voluntary information" before to investigate further a crime?
This brings us directly to a third interpretation for this initiative, neither cynical or optimistic just a stern reminder that a cause (even a good one) is never worth more than the means by which it is fought for.
London Police to trouble neighborhoods: please come forth and register, please be denied forever most of your civil rights since you're much more likely to participate or to have been involved in a crime.
Still wondering why those ads are specifically targeting borderline personalities?