The thankless thin blue line

The thankless thin blue line


As the wife of a police officer my heart aches when reading about the sacrifices these brave men and women make everyday to protect the public. The level of risk our constables and officers are exposed to is just crazy.

A police officer must be many things at once. The police officer is of all people at times the most needed, the most wanted and yet the most hated.

At times the police officer is addressed as Sir and at other times s/he is the focused target of violence, intimidation and every expletive in the Urdu and English dictionary combined. The trust deficit between the public and police is a growing gulf, exacerbated by the public image, personal interactions and lack of community outreach.

Historically be it Pakistan or elsewhere, we have witnessed underscored incidents of dishonesty and brutality, poor judgement and excessive force, because that is news. As if we are all living in some Orwellian nightmare police state.

Buried under the froth is the fact: Less than one-half of one percent of policemen misfit the uniform. That’s a better average than you’d find among clergymen! – Paul Harvey Aurandt.

But just beneath the surface, beyond all the “bad-press” and “bad -eggs” what do we fail to see?  We fail to see the father or mother, kiss their children before going on duty, we fail to see the constable standing in rain or shine sometimes for more than 8 to 10 hours with over 31 lbs of equipment strapped to their person, exposed to a threat level that would make most Hollywood super cops quake in their boots.

Crucified in public for both action and restraint, exposed to the best and the worst in our society. Whilst constables and officers are by the very nature of their profession and oath open to a high level of public scrutiny and accountability, we should not forget the human stories behind the badge.

Per a report published by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, 221 police officers paid the ultimate price whilst carrying out their duties in the year 2016.

Per a report published by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, 221 police officers paid the ultimate price whilst carrying out their duties in the year 2016. Regardless of the job description, no one should have to wake up exposed to the constant threat that they may or may not see their family again for a basic salary just shy of rupees 25,000.

I am not advocating that we as a country give the people who uphold the law carte blanche when it comes to use of force or enforcing the law and order, neither can one overlook our present malaise when it comes to endless roadblocks, check posts and spot checks.

The public the world over are at times not privy to the means and methods in which security agencies obtain information, we are immune to the many threats faced by our men and women in uniform because someone decided to wake up, put on a uniform and man that check post without any expectation of public appreciation for the brave sacrifice for being that thin blue line between order and chaos, law and lawlessness.

I don’t claim to know if check-posts and random searches are the best tactic to prevent crime and terrorism, but I do know that the next time I am stopped at a check post by a constable and asked for ID, I am going to shake their hands and thank them for their service.