One of the outcomes of the recent Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July and August was the nature of policing. One of the television stories during the Games when the commentators were not talking about hurdler Sally Pearson and administrator Eric Hollingworth, was on the Glasgow Police Force.
The story illustrated the following -
The Police were armed to the teeth
Selfies with the Police was a definite Yes
Group photos with the Police was a Yes
The Police were the real yet unofficial venue guides
They were very well informed about what, when and where
They were happy for the good joke with fresh real smiles
They were human faces but in a deadly serious business
As the television commentator explained, the Police had gone to Charm School.
Policing is such that it can be very trying to be a police officer can get 'fed up' with antagonists as quickly as the next person and they have the skill, experience and training to deal with a host of situations.
The message was clear to the Glasgow Police. Be friendly. Be helpful. Be courteous. Be photogenic. Be non-compromising to anything that might lead to danger. Police charm school was an essential ingredient to the success of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
So the question is, what actually is Police Charm School? In essence Police Charm School is defining and discerning that invisible thin line between being helpful and friendly on the one hand and officious on the other, even when a serious response might be the normal routine course of action.
The Commonwealth Games is however not the place of one's normal routine when policing in and around the Glasgow tenants. The Commonwealth Games has athletes and officials from the nations of the Commonwealth and in such circumstances their Charm School instructional classes proved the difference between good-fun and a Police State.
Gold Coast 2018
The television commentator made the point that the Gold Coast Police for the 2018 Commonwealth Games should likewise be sent to Police Charm School. The lessons learnt from Glasgow should not go unheeded for a friendly and fun filled experience for athletes, officials and the visiting public.
Queensland Police have an interesting history and for not want of a word, have a pretty difficult task. This recent article highlights a great side of the Gold Coast Police.
In early August, for example, a Queensland Policeman was suspended from duty after a home video came to light of him trying to haul in a young lad on a motor scooter. Instead of calling in the full force of the SAS with 30 fully armed SWAT team members to bring this "one adolescent" to book, an adolescent who did everything possible to avoid being caught, the officer did it himself with some, let's say, olden-day candour.
Many of the neighbours thought the Police officer should have been given a medal as this youngster had been annoying the neighbourhood for some time. The do-gooders who didn't live in that street were aghast.
It's never ending
Policing is a never ending situation faced with many difficult tasks, from attending fatal accidents with little ones and children let alone teenagers and youth, the grief of loved ones with such wasted lives; to drug busts and serious bikie gangs, to the inevitable domestics where the Police become the targets, to everything else in between.
Police Charm School might be very useful for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but they require a different kind of metal for their many other tasks.
It is here that the Police Chaplains play their role in their pastoral care for the police officers and their families. The police chaplains likewise have a never ending role as so many police officers end up taking stress leave and worse.
The Police Chaplains likewise need care after such demanding ministry outside their parish ministries. Parish ministry has its stresses, as does ministry outside the parish in specialist areas such as the police forces.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html