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“The two sides of the same coin”

I always remember when I was very little that my mum and my grandma talked about the “policeman on the corner”… A feeling of nostalgia comes to me when I remember those days. Those were the days in which there was no feeling of insecurity where I lived. You felt completely backed up and it was so peaceful and quiet that even kids got together to play in the streets long after curfew (generally about 9 pm when dinner was served— Yes! we eat dinner that late!). The policeman was someone respected, admired and trusted. It was common to see them in the neighborhood walking and watching; everything was fine. Unfortunately, after the mid 90’s things started to change.

The availability of more attractive jobs (economically speaking) made it more and more difficult to find people willing to be policemen. Year after year, there was more and more people and less and less applicants for the police force. The thing is that there are some “characteristics” that make it really disappointing to be a policeman in my country… First, the pay is really bad. Taking into account the risk and the responsibilities that being a policeman entitles, it is logical that there are very few applicants for the positions. The basic salary is just above the mean for other jobs, which makes for a really poor income to provide for your average family. Add to that the fact that we have an annual inflation rate of 30% AND that by law they can’t go on strike (which in the end means that their salary is updated just when the governor/president wants) and you have the perfect recipe for the LEAST TEMPTING job EVER!

Second are the high level of corruption. The aforementioned problem gave rise to another problem: bribery. Many, though NOT ALL!, policemen just can’t resist the temptation of receiving a “contribution” for “not seeing” a driver speeding or not having the necessary documents to drive a car or a motorcycle. This is very sad and very shameful but in many parts of South America it happens! This humble writer believes that if they were paid accordingly (meaning more than what politicians think is enough), problems like these wouldn’t exist (or at least we would have a more honest police force).

Third – training. Little by little (which is seen by many as cold compresses for a dying person) things are starting to change. Now we have an Institute of Public Security! The role of this institute is to train a person (which should be between 18 and 34 years old) to be an effective policeman in…TEN months. I just can’t believe that that time is enough to train a professional with huge responsibilities, duties and risks. Unfortunately, the easy access to this program (due to the desperate need for strengthening the police force) has made possible for people who can’t find a job or study a university career to take up this career as their “easy way out.” The question that constantly comes to my head is: “What’s more important… the amount of policemen in the streets or the aptitude of the policemen to make the right decision at the right time?”

But there’s a silver lining in every cloud, right? I know that there is. Because I am believer and I believe that there are people who are honest, I want to believe it because every day I go to work or to the bank or to the gas station, I run into awesome people and I do believe that not every policeman is a corrupt one. Because I believe that there are people who have a vocation, that felt the call to contribute to the society and that even if the circumstances are adverse, they will wake up early every morning, put on their uniforms and step out. They are our real anonymous everyday heroes.

This post is especially dedicated to my uncle who was a policeman (one of those every-day anonymous heroes I talked about earlier).

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2.   By djhender on Feb 24, 2015 | Reply

    Great article Mati! sweet dedication 🙂

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