Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fake Fiona Rae

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  • BenWilson,

    IO, we are on different planets. On mine someone can tell you how to use the system to their advantage without endorsing the system. On planet IO (or is it a moon?) that seems to be considered an 'aargh' moment. Which makes it sound like an aaargh kind of planet, since it also involves not getting my jacket back, a copper wasting a lot more time walking to his printer, and smartarse little kids getting away with shit.

    3410, he never said he couldn't do anything about it. He just said it was not a high priority thing, etc. You could call it a fob-off. Maybe he was just getting around to it.

    I think if you want to see it as a bribe, you will. I preferred not to see it that way.

    Robbery, if you don't want your shit back, then feel free not to do as I did. I prefer not to crusade around in martyrland trying to teach people a lesson they will never learn about service. But each to their own, I think bitterness is less of a steroid and more of an opium to many.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Oh, and I'm just as nice to my hairdresser. I fixed his TV set. I'm also nice to people in McDonalds, and will put my rubbish in the bin, since it's just there.

    pay $2.50 and get the owners name (from the plate number)

    Yup, that would be a good idea. That way you could talk to the person without even involving the cops.

    and then pass that detail on to the Police as well (although don't they have their own computers that can do that?)

    Well I guess you could do that too. They'd probably help you more easily if you did tell them you'd already done some legwork. It might help them to conclude that it's not a waste of time, if you could perhaps show them a picture of the person's busted arse vehicle.

    but I draw the line at asking the Cop how his day is, would he like a hug, can I get him a cup of tea, maybe a muffin?

    What if he told you his printer was stuffed? What would you do then? Eat a donut in his face and say it's not your job?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    he never said he couldn't do anything about it. He just said it was not a high priority thing, etc. You could call it a fob-off. Maybe he was just getting around to it.

    OK, whatever. I'm just surprised that you don't seem at all disturbed by the implications of your story. I'm nice to hairdressers and to shop staff too (as well as Police), but those people don't have a duty to act without fear or favour.

    pay $2.50 and get the owners name (from the plate number)

    If I'd been able to get the plate number there'd be no problem.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    If I'd been able to get the plate number there'd be no problem.

    Yup, it's likely to actually be 'too hard'. Not just because cops are human and have other priorities, but also because it is actually too hard. But it's worth a shot.

    I'm just surprised that you don't seem at all disturbed by the implications of your story. I'm nice to hairdressers and to shop staff too (as well as Police), but those people don't have a duty to act without fear or favour.

    Disturbed by the implication that if you help someone they might go that extra mile and help you? No, I actually like it. It seems fair enough. And my hairdresser does have a duty to treat me without fear or favour, but they may fail of that duty if I'm a fuxor. When I fix their TV, though, it's a different story.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    pay $2.50 and get the owners name (from the plate number)

    Yup, that would be a good idea. That way you could talk to the person without even involving the cops.

    That would be a bad idea in this case. if someone destroys your car and drives off they're not likely to be up for a heart to heart chat when you pop round to their place.
    the whole point of cops is so that people don't take the law into their own hands. obviously thats not an option so much these days and the cops want to push some of their workload back onto the people.

    Ben, ........your story would have been more heartwarming if you'd walked into the police station, made your complaint and they took it seriously, and then you fixed his printer.
    The way you told it it made it look like you doing the cop a favour was the reason he did his job. surely you can see the less heartwarming implications of the way the story came across, regardless of how you meant your story to impact on people.

    Your story taken in isolation isn't an issue, but compiled with many other police isues and my own personal experiences it starts to tip the scales (of justice) in the non favourable way.

    and I agree I'm not up for teaching people the art of customer service, but it can be done, as has been the case in the libraries and also I note in the health system.
    If mac donalds can do it then why not the cops. but feel free to burst the bubble of the Utopian dream of fairness and respect in the government service insustry..... pop

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Ben, ........your story would have been more heartwarming if you'd walked into the police station, made your complaint and they took it seriously, and then you fixed his printer.

    Fair enough, I will take on the chin that my story may have come across as an attempt at warming hearts. It was actually intended as a piece of advice on how one can get help on petty crimes that the cops wouldn't usually have time for, with no morality attached. The morals projection has been all external, people seem to think I'm advocating pay-per-cop as a system. Far from it, I'm just saying that under the current system, how it is right now, in my recent experience, it is quite possible to get help.

    If you wanted me to comment on the morality, and it seems that everyone with something to say does want that, I'd say that it's less than perfect, just like 100% of institutions I've dealt with. Cops, being human, like to prioritize their own work using the experience they have garnered over the years, and they like, as all humans do, to be treated with respect, and, god forbid, even helped on occasion. Helped to do their job, in this case. If I'd offered to pay the copper, or give him a box of donuts or something, I think he'd have been really offended and there would have been no action at all. As it turned out, I was one of those good Samaritans who lends people their jacket when they're riding a new motorbike because they don't want to think of some silly kid turning into a street pizza 15 minutes after he bought my bike (or a frozen popsicle more likely. Most people don't really appreciate the wind-chill factor of motorbikes until they ride). I also help out people who are having the kind of technical difficulties that I can fix in my sleep, especially when I hear how long they've been waiting for help from their own people. To me, fixing the printer was just my little act of public service, my way of getting more police action out of my tax dollars, whether it was for my immediate problem or just general law-keeping.

    I like to think (and I may be wrong, sure) that the copper just approved of all of that, and thought "hey, why don't I just have a quick look at the cellphone records - that's no more trouble to me than fixing my printer was to that guy". Next thing he's made a call, and hey, it's that sneaky kid. "This is Officer X following up on a report of a stolen motorbike jacket". "Oh sorry about that, yeah, I'll return it today". Case closed. And actually solved. An actual win. Hooray. Probably really made the coppers day after dealing with 20 reports of hit and run sideswipes with no details and a sour faced people thinking the worse of him.

    So like I say, you can call it a bribe. You can equate it to a shakedown if you want. I think there's a lot more to it. OK it's slightly unfair that the guy with the face like death, who hates coppers and makes that clear with all his body language, who demands to know when he's going to get a call about progress, and who says tough luck mate, I don't bribe people when told about the annoying bureaucracy that's in the way of the copper doing his job, doesn't get his case solved unless it actually falls into the cop's lap. But guess what? I don't help people like that in my work either, not with any priority anyway. I figure that some customers just never help themselves and that makes helping them extra hard and just not worth my time.

    feel free to burst the bubble of the Utopian dream of fairness and respect in the government service insustry

    Nope, no pop from me. I think that dream is about as likely as the dream of fairness and respect towards public servants from the public. But I'm doing my little bit on my side of the equation, hoping to at least get a bit closer to Utopia. Strangely, my way seems to have got me satisfaction once, hence sharing that story.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    ... dealing with 20 reports of hit and run sideswipes with no details and a sour faced people thinking the worse of him.

    Once again, you write a lot harder than you read.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Fair enough, I will take on the chin that my story may have come across as an attempt at warming hearts. It was actually intended as a piece of advice on how one can get help on petty crimes that the cops wouldn't usually have time for, with no morality attached.

    ok, understood. rather than condoning the way your situation played out you were giving us pointers on how to make the flawed system work for us.
    That I can deal with.

    on a similar note I've been reading a fair few posts on american blogs re police hard handeness.
    overly violent arrests caught on film, excessive tazering etc.

    I've noticed a general slide into acceptance (not universal) of said tactics. People saying if a cop tells you to do something you do it without question etc. an endorsement of the police state ethic.

    I guess this is easy enough to swallow if you were born into the period but if you grew up in a time when free speech and the right to use it was vigorously defended, and authority monitored and questioned to keep it straight, its a shock to the system, be it a slow creeping up on you shock.

    Sometimes the easiest way to deal with the situation is to work around it with in the parameters known, and on an individual level that is probably the best way to deal with things cos one person can't change much unless they're gandi or someone, but .......

    the revolutions got to start somewhere

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Bit of a tangent, but I was really struck by a stupid Yahoo/Xtra poster touting Yahoo Answers.

    The question on the billboard was something like "Am I at fault if I sneeze and have a car accident". And the illustration was an American cop restraining someone on the ground.

    No indication that they knew what country we all live in, or that we don't expect heavy joint-locking restraining holds to be a cop's first reaction.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Compensation paid...by cops in NZ to protesters,
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10477232

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Once again, you write a lot harder than you read.

    Heh, true. How did it pan out, btw?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    How did it pan out, btw?

    Basically, file-and-forget. C'est la vie.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    The way you told it it made it look like you doing the cop a favour was the reason he did his job.

    I'm with Ben on this one. How many of you are sitting at work, posting on publicaddress to procrastinate from some minor-but-annoying jobs? Got any customer queries in your to-do list that have been sitting around for weeks, after not finding an obvious fix at first glance?

    I suspect what police-guy did wasn't strictly within the scope of his job description; checking cellphone records and having a wee chat with the offender most likely falls outside official police procedure. Ben's story is nothing to do with bribery; just a personal favour (using one's workplace resources, possibly in a manner that might be met with mild disapproval by one's superiors) in return for a personal favour.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Basically, file-and-forget. C'est la vie.

    Bummer. Least u got insurance. On the flipside, the other guy's damage is surely worth a lot more, some karma there at least.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Least u got insurance

    PS. I have no insurance, but don't feel too bad. After 20 years without it, I'm way ahead.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    just a personal favour (using one's workplace resources, possibly in a manner that might be met with mild disapproval by one's superiors) in return for a personal favour.

    (ricky gervais voice) how is a cop finding the guy accused of stealing something 'doin' a favour'
    its their job.
    you're just trying to wind ben up aren't you, ..... keep him going a little bit longer,

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I have no insurance

    Double bummer. Would be nice if the cops could at least tell you if a car like that was stolen that night. Then you'd know if your rage was righteous.

    Heather, thx. I thought of it as a professional favor both ways, rather than personal. After all, it is the cops' job to follow up on crimes, and they do need to print stuff out a lot in doing so. I can't imagine his superiors felt anything but relief at never having to hear about his printer again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    you're just trying to wind ben up aren't you, ..... keep him going a little bit longer

    Doesn't take much. You just have to accuse me of bribing cops and not being a good listener after telling everyone you'd like some help catching some dangerous driver. I would actually like to catch the guy, but oh well, if you're going to just slam the wallet down and storm off...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    (ricky gervais voice) how is a cop finding the guy accused of stealing something 'doin' a favour'
    its their job.

    ...but there's a procedure to follow, in place specifically to uphold the rights of both complainant and accused. A couple of years back I asked for advice about abusive text messages and emails I was getting, and the police-guy told me that in order for them to do anything, I'd need to press charges - they weren't able to just call up and give the offender a caution. And fair enough, I didn't think the situation was serious enough to warrant charges. Eventually turned out ignoring the messages had the desired effect anyway.

    Ben's story sounds similar, except it sounds like the police-guy decided it was no skin off his nose to take a shortcut - and while I'm ok with an occasional helping hand, (the same kind of helping hand I've gotten from recruitment agents and bank tellers on occasion) they're not the kind of shortcuts I'd feel comfortable with the police exercising willy-nilly.

    I think Ben's main point has ended up being that in, say, such a circumstance as mine, a lot of people instantly snap to their belief that the police are being near-deliberately officious & uncooperative, whilst ignoring the fact that this policeman is currently standing behind a counter that backs onto a hideously taxing, boring, bureaucratic, high-pressure work environment, where he's expected to prioritise people's pain and frustration on a daily basis, no less. & case in point: Ben tells a story with a positive outcome and instantly everyone starts railing against a lazy & corrupt police force that'll only help if you help them first. As much as there is infinite scope for a policeman to be more (and yet more) pleasant & helpful in your time of crisis, it doesn't mean that he's not doing his job if you don't get the ideal resolution.

    you're just trying to wind ben up aren't you, ..... keep him going a little bit longer,

    Actually, I have a wee internet-crush. (blush)

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I got a call from the police today - from a very helpful constable in Johnsonville, ringing to tell me the outcome of the case of the guy who assaulted me a few months ago (made a voluntary donation to charity, wrote me a letter of apology, discharged without conviction, which is pretty much just what I felt was right). The constable had been to see the guy twice and was ringing up to pass on his assessment that the apology was genuine.

    Perhaps I have been lucky, or perhaps the attitude is different once violence enters the picture, but I personally am pleased and impressed with the dealings I've had with the police over this incident.

    Also, what Heather said, minus the crush part ;)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Heather, I had filed a report claiming a theft. I even knew the guy's name, that being needed for the transfer of the motorbike. He also weaseled out of his side of that, by not putting his paperwork in. This concerned me because I subsequently read that I'd be liable for his speeding fines, so I deregistered it somehow. Officially I shouldn't have been able to do that, since I couldn't bring the plates in, but guess what? The post office also has printers....

    Actually, I have a wee internet-crush. (blush)

    I can see where this is going. I don't do printers anymore, sorry.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Ben,
    Whatever, man.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    I had filed a report claiming a theft.

    Yeah, I omitted a few steps in my logic in that post, and a couple of assumptions. Point is I don't think it should be up to the public to determine what steps the police "should" be taking as part of their job, especially if the rationale is that it's so quick and easy to sift through someone's cellphone records.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Point is I don't think it should be up to the public to determine what steps the police "should" be taking as part of their job, especially if the rationale is that it's so quick and easy to sift through someone's cellphone records.

    Totally. I had no idea it was even possible, thought they needed a warrant for that. But I'm no cop. He made it sound easy when he flagged me down on the street, but that could have been an act.

    I should correct myself. It wasn't cellphone records. It was landline records of calls to cellphones. The kid had only given me a landline number, and every time I called it after the transaction they claimed never to have heard of the guy, except one girl who said "Oh, you mean XY, he doesn't live here, never has", where XY was his nickname. Which was pretty much when I went back to the copshop. So I'd done my legwork, too. Knowing the guy's nickname probably helped the copper with his inquiries. Maybe that bumped the job up the queue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    sounds like the police-guy decided it was no skin off his nose to take a shortcut

    if your idea of a short cut is the difference between doing nothing and doing something which turned out to be quite simple, (and one wonders how many of the turned down cases are actually quite simple).

    I just had this brilliant idea for upping the quality of police work, and customer satisfaction.
    how bout at the end of each inquiry the customer gets given a customer feedback card where they get to fill in the details of how helpful the cop was and pop it in a box at the exit, cops details on the form etc. cop doesn't have access to the box etc, make it matter of course.

    Then the top brass can review them and see who consistently gets feedback of the nature, "waste of time, no help, and was indigently rude", and those who get "considerate and helpful through out"

    Sure you'll get the odd fuckwit who hates all cops and writes garbage but he brass should be able to weed that out and see who gets the consistently bad feedback, and then hopefully move them on to a job that would truly suit them, like mall security guard.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

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