09 August 2010

Cops and Bad Boys

Police have a bad reputation in Russia.  Russians see their police as a corrupt force that is out to line its pockets instead of helping people.  I have been warned by good friends to eschew the police as much as possible, even when I am in trouble.
Russians' Advice:  Don't Call Our Cops

I have been been trivially stopped by the road police a few times, and I have had bribes extorted from me twice.  It may be surprising, then that I  do not agree with the Russian perpective on the police entirely.

Russian policemen are men after all.  They have families and mouths to feed.  Muscovite police - the ones I am familiar with - live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.  And, they are not well paid.  It is not a surprise then that the police would resort to unlawful measures of demanding bribes - knowing that at the end of every ruble there is a person - and that person is responsible for other people.*

Today I saw another example of good behavior by "bad"police - a behavior that I hope to see by police in major US cities someday.  Coming home, I noticed a grown man asleep in a stretch of grass on a private property.  As in the US, the police was called to resolve the situation.  Unlike the US, the situation was handled gracefully and with dignity.

In a major US city, the response would have been the arrival of two or more heavily armed police cruisers and rather aggressive stance towards the trespasser.  The trespasser would have been handcuffed, charged for trespassing and public intoxication, and hauled off to the jail somewhere.  With any sudden movements on the trespasser's part, the police would have taken preemptive restraining action, which basically means beaten the guy up to some degree.
American Police:  Every Clown is a Potentially Lethal Risk

Here, the police arrived, woke the man up, talked to him, gave him water to drink, further splashed him down to cool off, and had him walk away without any trouble.

The two cops, with no apparent bad boy amongst them, humbled the bad boy into good behavior.  This, I hope will be good and effective community-based policing in the US some day.


* The Russian dynamics of extorting bribes are rather complex and shall be explored in future postings.


A friend told the following anecdote to me in response to this blog:
A [Russian] policeman stops a driver and demands that the driver produce his documents and 500 rubles.  In protest, the driver says "but officer, I have done nothing wrong."  In response, the policeman states "I have a wife and three children.  My wife, she cannot wait until you've done something wrong."

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