Some time ago, the laws had changed in Sydney, Australia — bars and clubs were no longer allowed to let patrons in after 1:30 A.M.; this caused an uproar from all the degenerates that felt their right to party had been taken away from them.
A movement started to regain their freedom, and though it was a political one, the police (who were just doing their job) got thrown into the mix.
The legal action was given a name, “The Lockout Laws”.
Policemen aren’t allowed to be political, considering they have a job to do; to protect the citizens, make a judgement, and enforce the law when necessary.
It’d be difficult and rather hypocritical to judge officers, simply doing their job; by considering them to be part of the problem.
Being the inquisitive individual that I am, I decided who not go talk to them?
After all, I’m sure they’ve got some great stories to share.
Nobody else liked the idea of it, they felt it was ludicrous to even think of such a thing.
I felt differently, partly because I was an outsider and a curious cat; I wanted to know how they felt — about doing their job.
Hollywood movies can do one of two things, bring awareness to a matter in a positive light or bring awareness to a matter where power was abused.
Most buddy/cop movies make cops look like badass individuals, nothing better than Denzel Washington waltzing around drug dealers in “Training Day”.
The more realistic ones, make our guts wrench.
Two brilliant examples being,
Fruitvale Station (2013).
End of Watch (2012).
Since Police Brutality wasn’t much of a discussion in Australia, because we hardly ever experienced any cases of abuse of power much like the ones we’d read about over in America; I guess it was a bit far-fetched to think that I could truly understand what causes such a reaction, but it was worth a look.
Easter holidays, New-Years eve, or Halloween…kinda any family vacation where we’d have work off and get a chance to go out and party.
It wasn’t rare to witness some drunken individual getting thrown into the back of a police car or a bunch of guys having their bodies searched for ecstasy pills.
It was one of those moments, that we decided we’ll just take it easy — stick to smoking instead, and watch the fireworks on New-Years eve.
Shortly before we could get a chance to look at the fireworks, we’d see headlights coming towards us — “Is that a van?”, sure looked like one.
There weren’t any flashing lights so we did what any paranoid stoner would do, run for the hills.
Soon the car would light up those flashing blues and reds, and we’d come to a halt.
“Whew, it’s the police. I thought we were about to get kidnapped”.
“Shit, throw away the joint…idiot”, said one fine individual from the group.
Two male and a female office stepped outside, I volunteered to speak — being the only sober one.
“Why were you guys running?”
“…We saw headlights in the park. We couldn’t figure out it was the police, we thought we might get kidnapped so we started running.”
“This park’s off limits after 10 p.m., the residents in the apartment have access to it. Do you guys live around here?”
“Yeah…we live 20 mins away.”
“Alright…can we see some I.D.”
We all handed them out…
“Alright, looks good. Stay off the cannabis fellas”
WHAT?! Did he just…what?
I couldn’t help but burst out laughing, whilst my group of friends looked at me like I’d brutally screwed them over.
The officers knew, they also had a sense of humour about the situation.
It was in this moment that I realise, It’s New-Year’s Eve and these guys don’t get to go home to spend time with their loved ones; and here we are in the middle of a park getting high.
“If you don’t mind me asking, do you guys get a vacation for New Years?”
My friends all looked at me, fuming, “Just let them go, stop asking stupid questions”.
“Nah mate, we roam around in parks lookin’ for fellas like yourselves to arrest”.
It was tongue in cheek humour, but I got the point.
They don’t get to go home, because their job is to Protect and Serve.
Whilst our job is, Grind through the week and Get wasted on the weekend.
As a parting gift, I asked the officers if it’d be alright if I dropped by sometime into their station — if they’d be kind enough to talk me through the details of their job.
They probably thought it was stoner-chatter or an attempt at teasing them.
I realised it might seem that way, hence I offered up my credentials as a Research; I’d like to understand, I said.
What it feels like to be a Police Officer.
They humbly obliged and told me to drop by anytime I liked, as long as we stayed away from parks at midnight and illicit substances.
I promised on behalf of the group, knowing full-well the others would never comply.
Though the meeting I had was barely enough to scratch the surface, it did reveal a lot about what it takes to be an officer.
The patience it takes to deal with one of those “Do you know who I am” moments.
The price paid for a misjudgement.
The sacrifice of working-odd shifts and hardly ever having enough time with your loved ones.
To be judged every step of the way, whilst you do your job.
To have drunken individual shout verbal abuses.
The inability for people to accept when they’re in the wrong, hence blame it on the officers.
To be looked at with fear, rather than with compassion.
But most of all, that it’s not a power-trip for most officers — it a genuine camaraderie that they do share for one another, to fulfil their duty, to protect and to serve — and they do it all for their families, to make sure everybody else sleeps safely whilst they stay awake in the line of duty.