My brief stint as a district police officer. Part 2

Brief description of previous installment: Most city residents don’t trust the police and slightly fear them instead. KP journalist Pavel Bukin decided to find out why by taking a job at a local police station. After fibbing on the computerized psychological testing, Bukin was deemed worthy of a uniform. On his first day at work, police officer Bukin learned he would have to regularly check in on convicts and the mentally ill. He also learned how to handle official statements about individuals who faced losing their apartments. Bukin decided that the line between what’s acceptable and what’s not is thin for the police.

Cozy little nest at work

My instructor Sergey and I went to the store for a bite to eat. It was long after lunch break. Our meal was a bun and yogurt.

“A healthy life is healthy eating!” Sergey said smilingly. “Let’s go get some food back at the operating room. It’s something like a personal office. That’s where we handle civilians and stamp papers. The whole area is divided into zones, and the zones into districts. There are around 4-6 districts in every zone. And each zone has its own operating room.”

“What’s that computer over there?” I asked when we got there. “Is it for games or something?”

“Haha,” Sergey laughed.

“We still use this thing to type?!” I said after getting a closer look at the typewriter circa 1980s.

“Yep,” Sergey said. “Higher technology hasn’t yet crossed our path. But we plan to buy computers in the near future.”

Regardless, though, Sergey wasn’t bored. It turned out kayaking was our mutual hobby. In a few days he headed off to Karelia for a little rest and relaxation. And I was passed along to another officer.

Quotas for drunks and debauchees

My training period passed relatively painlessly. Soon I was a real police officer wearing a grey uniform with red lining. It wasn’t easy! The statements and paperwork were abundant. And the deadlines were inhumanely tight. It was physically impossible to finish on time.

The police have to check each and every statement even if it was written by an obvious loony.

Most of the time they’re old ladies who think they’ve been poisoned by an incomprehensible source like a toilet. One woman said she was being followed by a Saint Petersburg gang that planned on killing her and taking her apartment in the city (that didn’t actually exist). She said the murder weapon was going to be a syringe and deadly dose of heroin. Another woman demanded that we find the criminal who stole her wallpaper and pasted a different pattern instead.

So unfortunately little time remains for those who actually need the police’s help — not a visit to the psychiatrist. A husband smacks his wife, a wallet is stolen, a kid skips out on the army, an ice sickle falls on a car… Such incidents result in endless checks that are so numerous it’s just impossible to meet deadlines. And everything needs to be finished within 3-10 days.

In addition to written appeals for help, verbal complaints are also made to police officers continuously. Of course they aren’t controlled in any way at the station. But they might weigh heavy on the conscience.

I was also tasked with managing administrative protocol. The district police still has a quota like back in the Soviet days. On the one hand, it’s understandable. If there wasn’t a quota, a lot of officers wouldn’t do a thing. On the other hand, though, how can a police officer plan how many drunks he’s going to arrest in a month for indecent exposure in a public area? READ MORE

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