The results of your feedback to my last post, 'Market Research' are now with my analytical friend deep in the dungeons of the Utopian Police Headquarters. Once he's put it through his computer, in between playing Tetris, I'll publish his findings and recommendations next week. I'm now off on a long weekend with Mrs Hobbes and Baby Hobbes, and am taking my two cats 'Bloodbath' and 'Razorblade' along too. In the meantime, my latest post has come out on Police Oracle, which is more of a recollection of times gone wrong than anything else. However, and more importantly, and I suppose related to the posts, 'A Need For Justice: Parts 1 and 2', Sierra Charlie tells us why he gives up his own free time as a Special Constable for no pay whatsoever...
Mr Hobbes asks, "What made you become a Special Constable for no pay? What is it that drives you to give up your own time, mostly at weekends, to do so?". Not an entirely silly question. Most people do not do any voluntary or charity work. Only about 0.004% of my home city's population do what I do in my spare time so you might say we are a pretty rare breed.
I could say that I want to "give something back to society", for that is the banal reason that most Sierra Charlies give when asked the question. I suspect that this reason is given because the real reasons are far too complex to answer in one sentence. I avoid spewing out banalities so I usually shrug and say "dunno".
My good e-friend of the Southernshire Constabulary has just written a post answering this self-same question. Go and have a read of it, if only because his reasoning is quite similar to my own.
When I was a kid I had no plan to be a copper when I grew up. I did not go through the usual boyhood phase of wanting to be a fireman or a train driver or a policemanofficer. I might have wanted to be a spacemanofficer at some stage but I decided that I probably wouldn't like the food and I might miss my Mum if I had to go into suspended animation for hundreds of years. All I knew about the police when I was a kid was that this impressive figure came round to our school every now and again to talk to us. We all got terribly excited when we heard he was coming, but as far as I know none of us wanted to be like him. His name was PC Blood.
Anyway scroll on a few decades. I'm nicely settled in my chosen career as a paper shuffler, tea boy and general dog's body. I'm earning a sensible but not spectacular salary, I have my own place, a wonderful collection of friends and family. But although I have most of the "material" things that I want, I feel pretty unfulfilled. It's a bit like at the beginning of The Matrix - I felt like my life was not reality and that I was floating around in a comfortable middle-class bubble totally detached from the Real World that was going on around me. I kept trying to wake up. I was also at that middle-aged stage where going out and getting p*ssed every weekend was no longer my thing and I wanted to do something a bit more constructive at the weekend.
So I applied to join The Urban Police Service. I had actually filled the form in a couple of years previously but had bottled actually sending it off. Somehow I summoned up the nerve to send it off and I was soon on the conveyor belt towards the best thing I have ever done.
I am rambling a bit here and appreciate the fact that I haven't actually said why I do it. I think there are two main points. One is that I want my city to be a safer, freer, more peaceful place for myself, my friends and my family. My "principles" tell me that I should be prepared to roll up my sleeves and pitch in rather than expecting politicians and my tax money dollars to do the work for me. The other thing is that seeing the streets from a different perspective goes some way to quenching my thirst for experiencing the world and all its delights. I don't want to live my life wrapped up in cotton wool having not seen life's extremes of beauty and horror. So in the year or so that I have been a Charlie I have seen an awful lot. Why do I still do it month after month? Why do I disrupt my sleep and social life in order to put on my pointy hat and sweaty boots?
Because even a boring shift can be immensely satisfying. I never know what is going to happen and what I might have to deal with. And when I get home I can think to myself, "I did something useful today?"
I'll leave you with my favourite of Peel's Principles: Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Just imagine how much better the world would be if just 1% of the population did this.