Friday, October 06, 2006

Policing who you want to Police

It may sound understandable that a policeman of Lebanese origin did not want to police the Israeli embassy while they were at war with his countrymen. War is a rather emotional thing. He felt ill disposed towards Israeli's, made that clear to his superiors and they moved him off the case. As a result of this no one got hurt and there were plenty of other officers to watch over the embassy.

The reason it is utterly unnacceptable is that if he is admitting that the biases emerging from his being anything other than a British policeman and citizen will affect his ability to protect people then how can we be sure this will not feed into his other work? If he sees a Jewish person being verbally or physically abused will he respond as we would expect?

This kind of question undermines the police force as a body of neutral enforcers of the law and turns them into a series of interested groups policing for their communities. Such an outcome will lead to more distrust of everyday policing as an officer's personal biases in every crime are questioned by every criminal and victim. It also strikes at the notion of an equality of justice. This police officer should be told that he is not in the right career.

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