It is better to let 100 guilty men go free, than to imprison an innocent man.
Personally, I firmly believe this, as historically around 80% of them will come back anyway, but I digress.
Many people have slagged Police officers off in the past (especially with the protection that the anonymity of blogging provides) for being acquiescent with the system and being nothing more than a 'Vichy Cop' as someone eloquently put it. The very same people also over use the comments 'if you don't like your job then quit' and 'you knew what you were getting in to so deal with it' when Police officers complain about the ridiculous amounts of bureaucracy that we have to put up with.
Just as an aside, Nurses and GP's complain about the amount of forms they need to fill out in order to meet government targets and stats collation, instead of caring for patients as they joined to do. I don't hear people slagging them off for complaining about it even though most of the bureacracy was in way before a lot of them started.
I think its fair to say that the majority of people who join to be a Police officer do it for a limited number of reasons, be they to help people, catch bad guys, drive fast cars or simply because they always wanted to do it and finally found that they could. It certainly isn't because of the pay, as those who do tend to last less than a year of working on the street. There is way too much crap to deal with and its simply not worth joining for pay alone - unless they escape to an office somewhere to grow some shiny arsed trousers.
At first it's all new, some of it completely unbelievable, but most of it good as you've never really experienced anything like it before. You'll be completely knackered as the toll of shift work, learning and pushing yourself to prove to your colleagues that you are worth your salt kicks in but for the most part, it's all good. Then after a year or so you realise that you're dealing with the same type of people and the same type of problems over and over. You'll have said 'why exactly do we need to do this? it's a waste of time, no one reads it anyway' so often that people don't answer any more, you'll also realise that most of your colleagues say the same thing all the time.
For the most part, virtually everything we do is thankless and viewed with suspicion or scorn by people outside the job. There might be a good reason for some of it, certainly not good enough to justify most of it, but ultimately you know that a lot of what you do is pretty shit.
And my god, will you bitch and moan about it. Maybe not at work, but certainly to your other half and a few mates, most of whom will wonder why you still go to work if you really hate it so much.
And then every now and then, you'll get a job that makes up for all the crap and it's what you joined for - catching a burglar bang at it, helping a family after a tragic incident, nicking a rapist and seeing them get charged the same day, seeing someone completely turn their life around after you helped them out. You might get someone giving you a sincere thank you, or even taking the time to write a letter to your bosses about how happy they were with what you did for them. Relatively minor things, but in a job where you deal with the worst that humanity can throw at you (and each other) the small things really make up for it.
The problem is most people don't see those things, they don't see you at 4am with your knee in some wife beaters neck after he tried to stab you as well, or dragging a burglar out of some kids bedroom after he broke in while they were asleep. All they see is The Bill, or whatever has made media story of the day - whether that's 6 coppers dragging a drunken woman to the floor or someone popping into Tesco to get lunch after parking on double yellows. I'd place a wager that they won't be encouraging everyone to give you a pat on the back next time they see a Police officer walking down the street on the one occasion that the blue moon shines.
Each of us has our own cache of 'good stuff' tucked away inside and occasionally you might think about it when things are 'proper shit' as one of my colleagues regularly puts it, or if you see one of the people involved a few years later.
If society is willing to accept that in order to do the proper thing in preventing an innocent person from being incarcerated they must accept that bad people must go free and bad things could occur a hundred times over, can we can not use the same rationale? Surely it is better to accept that the 1% good is worth the 99% bad, and that its better to be in the position to be able to do the good thing, instead of sitting in an office working for a faceless shareholder?
As much as I moan about how much shite we have to deal with, as long as I know that I have done the right thing when it has been right to do so and that I'm backed up by my colleagues for doing it - even if the majority of the public never hear about it, then I'll keep on doing this job.
And bitching about it.