Us and Them
But that's not the same as actively encouraging a dangerous gunman to evade the police, nor taking sides with someone obviously either unstrung or homicidal, or possibly both. Instead of hearing impassioned pleas to hand himself in, or enthusiasm for the cops to snare him, I read quotations from many saying how he planned to "take people with him" or "go out in a blaze of glory". Worse still, several people actively assisted him. Some of those have been charged, but the implication from the Det Supt running the operation was that police believed Moat had further assistance within the community that enabled him to remain at large within an arm's length. This is not Derrick Bird, a man who had lived a pretty law-abiding existence under the radar before losing his mind in some way and murdering eleven strangers. Moat was someone accused of years of abuse, who had served time for hitting a child, who utilised illegal weapons and made clear his violent intentions. I'm not saying demonise him - clearly he needed help too - but is it too much to expect everyone to support the manhunt for him?
Has antipathy towards the police now degenerated to the point at which a rampaging murderer garners widespread support from sectors of the community? Is it truly "war" between the police and the public?
Certainly reading comments about the arming of police, many members of the public seem to think the firearms given to the police are there to be used against the public and that therefore they want to have guns too. I always thought that the police force in any civilised country is the weapon at the belt of the public. We are there to attend dangerous incidents and apprehend crooks so they don't have to. Yes, we frequently do a bad job and many of us are frustrated or even embarrassed when that happens.
But to give up on the police altogether, to turn on them and say the police are the enemy and mean to do us harm, is to give up on modern society altogether. It is to say every man for himself and damned be the consequences.
I don't know about you, but the thought of living in that Britain scares the hell out of me.
One final thing: the police will never bring a loved one to the scene of negotiations with someone who is suicidal - in case he wants them there to kill himself in front of them.
"I bear him no malice."
All the best to PC Rathband, I hope your eyesight recovers fully.
You're a better man than I.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.