Sunday, November 04, 2007

That's not a knife - this is a knife!

I wasn't going to post tonight, but this afternoon I shut down my local police station. It wasn't my fault - honest!

It all started when I realised I wouldn't have enough cigarettes to last me through to the morning, so I decided to take a walk to my local shopping plaza. Sunday is a busy shopping day where I live, with all the shops, cafes and two supermarkets all open and doing a roaring trade.

On my way back, I did what I usually do; I stopped to have a sit down and a cigarette in a little park just on the edge of the shopping precinct. I always carry a neat little black ashtray, (often handed out by local councils or environmental groups). You put your butt in the egg shaped container, slide the lid shut, then when you are sure it's extinguished, tip it into a nearby bin. That's exactly what I did today - and saw a bloody huge knife in the rubbish bin!

The photograph does not do it justice. The handle extended a lot further and the blade went deeper into the bin. At night, the park is used by the local teenagers as an al-fresco bar. It didn't seem a good idea to leave it there, so I thought I would take a photo, turn back and pop into my local nick and let them know about it.

That's when the fun began.

"Yes Sir. May I help you?" Having reported incidents to my local police on other occasions, I was encouraged. So far so good, I thought to myself.

"I thought I had better tell you, I found a large knife in the rubbish bin in the park."

"Oh right. How large is it?"

"I can show you" I said. I took out my camera, flipped open the screen and showed him.

"That is big isn't it" he observed. I was even more encouraged. Until he asked, "what's it doing there?"

You know how some people hear voices? Out of thin air I heard my mother's voice saying "Michael - stop that". I answered "I don't know".

I could see he was a bit perplexed. He stood stroking his chin - the sort of chin stroking that told me I was not going to like what he was going to say next.

"How do you feel about going back and bringing it back to the station?"

Oh that was easy to answer! Calmly I told him,

"Not very happy with that idea. For one thing I don't really want to walk through a busy shopping area carrying that bloody thing. Secondly, it is illegal and I would be committing a crime, (it is illegal to even carry a pen knife in public) and if it has been used in a crime, the chances are the only fingerprints you will find on it will be mine".

He nodded his head and said, "Good point." He thought for a little longer and helpfully informed me, "I could give you a bag to wrap around the handle". I declined.

I then found out what the problem was.

"Right. I think I'd better lock up the station and go and take a look".

"You're the only officer here?" I asked.

"Yes Sir."

I told him I really would like to help, but I just did not fancy the idea of carrying a huge knife in public.

"Not a problem Sir. I'll just go and start locking up then" and gave me one last hopeful look.

If anyone from the NSW Police Minister's office is reading this, perhaps you may like to explain why government policies have led to a situation where a member of the public has to commit a crime in order to help the police? It was not the fault of the officer on duty, it was not my fault.

It is however, the fault of government policy and government cut-backs.