The positive aspects of police work

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The picture above I took during Sweden’s national commemoration day on June 6th here in Malmoe. I asked the police officer in the photo if it was okay if I used it for my blog and she accepted. This text is meant to pinpoint mainly the positive aspects of police work, even if It also discusses some attitude problems too. Two weeks ago I wrote a text where I critisized dark aspects of police work, excessive and unnecessary violence, bad attitudes and racism within the Swedish police force. There is no doubt that such attitudes do exist, or at least very categoric generalizations are made to “simplify” the work in various situations.So what can be done to improve the situation? First we must be honest with the fact that the categoric ideas and rather blunt sterotype values flourish within the police, and that also innocent, good people become victims of suspicon because of their skin colour or social background. That is a big problem which must be solved so that the police might improve their status among wider groups, also among immigrants. To some extent things are easening up. The detective assistant Carin Brange here in Malmoe told me last year that the Malmoe police were taking courses in multicultural and social issues. However sometimes police officers who suggest improvements in how to deal with social issues are rejected and neglected. In February 2009 Niklas Orrenius, journalist at the newspaper Sydsvenskan here in Malmoe had interviewed a former journalist colleague, Björn Holmberg, who had changed his career and become a police officer. As a police he after a while began talking about immigrants as “black heads”, which his girl friend didn’t like. As a police officer Björn saw the backside of society. There aren’t many police officers with immigrant background, even if they do exist, but they are too few in number considering the ethnic mix in cities like Malmoe, Landskrona, Helsingborg or Kristianstad. Björn Holmberg told Niklas Orrenius : “Police work is dealing with taking care of law-brakers. But as a police officer you often see that nothing really happens. Strange cases where people are let loose, or the sentences become very short. Then there might be a wish to retaliate. Then maybe someone in an excited situation, during a demonstration for example, take the chance to beat extra hard with the truncheon. I don’t defend it, but that’s how it is.” About the bosses Björn and his colleague Anja Olsson said: “The high police bosses protect themselves. They are itchy. They are more like politicians. Some are lawyers who never have been working as police officers at all. They’re sitting in a protected environment”.

The police are meant to keep some kind of order in society. In many cases they are doing a great job and they are important for keeping structure in the society and preventing crime. In the  police folder Safe and secure in Malmoe we might also read about different pieces of advice from the police how to avoid ending up in trouble or in criminal networks.

  • Always demand receipt when you buy things
  • Avoid buying suspiciously cheap cigarettes or alcohol which might come from the black market
  • Avoid using illegal taxi drivers
  • Do not visit illegal clubs

Heja Malmö is an initiative taken as co-operation between Malmoe Municipality and the Police where the aim is to avoid the black market. By making deliberate choices as an ordinary citizen it might contribute to limitting the black market and the crime connected to it. In Malmoe the black market is estimated to about 6 billion kronor each year, so it’s better to use safer ways.

The Malmoe police and their colleagues in the rest of Scania also have extra help by trained civilians, police volontairies who aid the police with creating a safer city. They inform citizens about ways to protect themselves by handing out folders, they are extra help on bigger events such as football matches,  concerts etc. They might be reached at http://www.polisen.se/volontariskane.

If you have seen a crime, or have been victimized yourself you might call 114 14 or e-mail the police on tipsapolisen.skane@polisen.se

These are a few ways to improve the situation. I would personally like to see

  • more female police officers,
  • more police officers with immigrant background,
  • more awareness about social causes  and the importance of early information to children 
  • improved multi-cultural competence
  • A higher status for equality issues
  • Improved work against honour-related crime.
    An improved understanding among both “ordinary citizens” and people on the brink of being drawn into a criminal life for the important work the police actually are doing.

Let’s see what we might do to get a better society.

Anders Moberg, June 14th 2013

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