Paul Juhlin here above has been working within the Police force for ten years. He is a Police Inspector and Outer Officer at the Malmoe Police, Press information Officer and is also Chief of Investigation many times. In 2010 he was approached by Swedish Television/SVT and asked if he was prepared to be followed every day in his work by a TV team during a period of four months? He said yes, but Paul was not the only one at the station who was followed that way. They all were, but Paul got a leading role in the documentary, and was also filmed in his home and on his way to work, even if the road shown on TV wasn’t the actual way there, out of secrecy. Swedish Television wanted to make a documentary about Malmoe and the Malmoe Police in a new series of documentary programmes, not just shot during arrests and inside the Police vehicles, like the TV documentary 112 for example, but with more focus on the entire work, laid-back office work, about the city life of Malmoe, interviews with ordinary people in the streets, journalists, lawyers etc as well as the Police men on and off duty. The name of the programme would simply be “Malmöpolisen”. I met Paul Juhlin two days ago when he was having a presentation for me and my class mates at the course in social media for companies and authorities which I’m taking right now. I asked him if it was okay if I took photos and was writing about it on my international weblog and he agreed.
The TV-series was shot during four months in the Autumn of 2010 and early 2011, and even if the intention had been to give a laid-back description of the Malmoe Police the TV-team ended up in a period full of shootings and murders, where there was a new shooting almost daily and a new murder approximately each week. Malmoe is a rather small big city, and a paradox of calmness, affection, culture and kindness combined with crime, fraud, beatings, shootings and murders. This would become such a period when things escalated. On the very first day with the TV-team Paul explained to them inside the bus that if something happened, a shooting for instance, the car would be a bad place to be. Then suddenly they were called to a murder. During some months in 2010 and 2011 Malmoe was in the centre of national and international attention because of the violent explosion. Most of the murders were killings within the shady businesses, people inside the world of crime and gangster rule, or in the outskirts of it. There was one exception though and that was the youngest murder victim, a 15-year old boy in Rosengård who was shot dead on New Year’s Eve 2011. The others were for instance a taxi driver and a restaurant owner.
Paul Juhlin explains that everything was shot by the TV-team, but not everything could be shown, such as mesmerised remnants of a person thrown from a balcony, bloody and destroyed bodies on a railroad after having commited suicide, victims of car accidents etc. If you read in the paper about trains standing still on the tracks, it in many cases is a suicide errand, not just dysfunctional lights or technical problems, but the journalists don’t write that. The team wanted to film Paul in his home. He asked both his family and his higher Chiefs, and since there is certain secrecy around Police Officers they can’t do just anything, and that’s why the supposed road on the way to work in the TV-series isn’t the real one, and the scenes from Paul’s home are rather anonymous and could be shot anywhere really. His wife and kids are also appearing in the series, and that was a rub if that was acceptable or not. They decided though that it might be a good thing to show Police Officers as every-day people with family, thoughts and feelings, not just like some kind of robots.
One year later in the Autumn of 2011 the TV-series would be shown prime time for six weeks. I remember it as a very good and trustworthy description of the city I live in, well balanced and with good nuances of the life here. Apart from the various errands the Police Officers in the programme were called to we also saw the situation at the station and how Paul and the others took some “arrest candy” when they had made an arrest. They still do according to him. He also told us that the relationship to media is biased and tricky for the Police. They need each other, and almost daily you find articles in newspapers and reports on TV or radio about arrests or other police business. Paul Juhlin explains that if for instance there is a car chase after som drug addict through the streets the journalists might write: “The crazed car chase by the Police”, and if the Police decide not to do such a chase the reporters might write: “Why didn’t the Police take action?” The journalists can always write something. Two weeks before the TV-series Malmöpolisen began Paul started a Facebook page which you might like, but where you can’t add him as a friend. This is Paul’s official Facebook page, but not his private one. He also created a Twitter account and began writing tweets. On Twitter you might find and be followed by admirers, friends and foes alike. Before the first programme TV began sending trailers about it and a few days before the first programme was broadcasted Paul got calls from journalists who already had seen part one of six on SVT Play. That Tuesday night when the first programme was shown Paul was sitting by the computer and chatted with people who wanted to ask questions and make comments. Most comments were positive and supportive, but some were negative and hateful. Some negative journalist comments and from anonymous haters. Paul noticed that even if he replied in a good way, the hateful commentators continued with their spite and foul behaviour. That is what some people use to call Internet trolls, even if I don’t like the expression, since we do not have to decline to even more abusive names, neither on Internet nor in real life. However the amount of hate on Internet is absolutely enormous, sometimes with names, sometimes signed by “nicknames”, but many times anonymous. That happened both on his Facebook page and on Twitter. Paul had written a policy for behaviour on his Facebook page and began adding that as a reply and soon the haters declined in amount, while the positive, neutral or nuanced comments increased.
Nowadays several Police stations and individual Police Officers have Twitter accounts. Some are tweeting about things they are doing on the job, or giving judicial pieces of advice about traffic behaviour, or how to protect yourself from Internet scams or robbery. Paul has chosen to do the latter, and also tweet about the usage of electric guns for Police patrolls in their equipment or just try to nuance Police work for followers, high Government officials, journalists etc. This last Monday afternoon Paul told us about an incident which occured on Twitter some time ago. Someone on Twitter tweeted that he/she was going to commit suicide. Someone had noticed that and retweeted that tweet to the Police, who immediately responded. The Police asked the person where he or she was etc, and began talking to the person with suicide in mind to stay calm. Other people on Twitter also tried to give that person strength and support. The Police managed to get to the person in question in time and save the life. Afterwards some people on Twitter congratulated the Police for saving the person, while others wrote that it was a shame that he/she hadn’t taken his/her life. Some journalists were also negative and indignantly wrote that it hadn’t been okay to save the life via Twitter. Normally this is done here in Sweden by calling 112. When Paul Juhlin began debating and nuancing on media, Twitter, Facebook, on TV etc one reporter had sulkily said to him: “The Police is to be surveyed, not try to debate or nuance anything”. Since journalists used to have the power over the media until just a decade ago, (since the early 1990’s their monopoly on describing and writing articles and debate has declined enormously because of the media development), the situation has made their role less significant. When I asked Paul if he detected an undertone of jealousy and resentment in that remark he agreed.
Paul described for us how people both on the extreme left and the extreme right follow him on Twitter alongside many others who are more balanced in their comments. People on the far right are often fascinated by the Police, and sometimes very extreme in how the Police should act, but might also turn into spiteful and resentful creatures in the comments, while extreme lefties often are mocking and spiteful from the other direction – and both sides hate each other. “The Internet too often seem to lure out the worst in people”, Juhlin firmly stated. Paul Juhlin has during the two years he has been active on social media become wiser in how he uses it, when and for what purpose. Being a Police Officer isn’t easy Paul Juhlin explained and described a situation where someone who is standing five metres away from you suddenly draws a knife. You might be mortally wounded or even killed in an instant, and if the Police must shoot, they might not shoot in the leg, but where it’s easier to hit, like the chest, and that has created a debate in media. Where and how to shoot in a dangerous situation. “Many upset commentators do not seem to have made any military service or been to war or in dangerous situations like that. When you are seconds away from being killed yourself or see someone else be killed you only have an instant to make a decision”, Paul explained.
At the end of the two hour lecture my class mate the journalist Murat (originally from Turkey) in the photo below began talking with Paul. Murat agreed with many things which Paul said during the lecture, and explained that he had seen so many guys in his own age fall into crime during youth, and how they behaved like absolute jerks, and Murat said that he himself had had ideas about becoming a Police Officer. Murat and Paul had a good and friendly chat, and Paul himself is a calm and reliable person. He hasn’t used his truncheon for years and no – he hasn’t killed anyone. Some colleagues have, but not Paul. Listening to Paul and his life as an every day Police Officer and as a public figure in media was interesting. Keeping a sound tone and good behaviour in reality and in media is always a good idea. How would you act?
Anders Moberg, December the 4th 2013