Tail Wagging the Dog

Humour noun

The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.

Seems fairly straightforward doesn’t it? Yet there are sub-sets within. Humour can be rude or childish, sexist, racist, light hearted and sometimes very dark. Yet it’s still not that simple because humour and how it is categorised depends on the prevailing circumstances, the group it is presented to and finally the ear that hears it.

I love this by Chris Rock – contains some profanity and violence

Having watched this you may be laughing like me. Conversely, you may be angry about the language, the use of police violence and the message being passed.

The police work in an environment where they have to deal with some pretty awful incidents. As a result there is occasionally some humour that people outside of the service would find distasteful. It’s a coping strategy that was echoed by @fleetstreetfox last week on BBC Woman’s Hour. She talked of some of the awful things she had to witness as a journalist and how at the end of a dreadful day she and colleagues may find themselves drunk and joking about unfortunate victims accidentally falling into mass graves.

Sometimes there is humour that everyone else finds funny with the exception of the person who instigated an idea. Many years ago I worked in a force on the C division. The new Chief Supt in a drive to improve morale and staff attitude to work came up with a mantra.

“The C division is a “Can Do” division”

He had lots of posters printed up and posted all over the station broadcasting this message. On a set of nights a mischievous officer – not me! – (probably a group) produced their own posters. They then swapped each one of the Chief Supers with theirs. The message on the substitute posters was the same but “Can Do” became “Kandoo” and this image was added.

20130217-181937.jpg

As you can imagine, the officers on the early shift found it hilarious. The Chief Supt on the other hand was less impressed. His posters were found undamaged and put back up. A man hunt (should that be person hunt?) commenced and a division wide email threatening severe consequences was sent. Any respect officers may have had for him was eroded because he failed quite comprehensively to have a sense of humour and respnd appropriately.

This week the CPS apparently requested a statement from a PC Peach for a prosecution file. They hadn’t realised that PC Peach was in fact PD Peach… “Police DOG Peach”. In a moment of harmless fun an officer is reported to have responded with a statement as requested.

20130217-182805.jpg

To my mind and that of many others it is very funny. If the Daily Mail is to believed then the CPS have taken a “we are not amused” stance. I think there will be Crown Prosecutors all over the country laughing at this. I also suspect a straight faced PSD department who are grinning from ear to ear behind their hands.

The fact is that humour is a complex layered emotion and one where you cannot keep everyone happy all the time. However, it is sometimes very easy. Recognise your error, laugh along with everyone else and move on together. You will gain much more respect doing this than getting hot under the collar and demanding a head.

All the CPS need to do is post this on their main account. I’ll make it easy .. Here’s the tweet wording.

“CPS mistake police dog as police officer and get a ruff draft statement in response”

Smile, laugh, take it as intended and move on taking a big chunk of respect from fellow CJS colleagues with you as we all move on.. life’s too short.

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7 thoughts on “Tail Wagging the Dog”

  1. Custody Sarge well said – in the meantime a valuable asset is left to twiddle his thumbs while someone in DPS with a degree, makes a decision!

  2. This isn’t the first time there’s been confusion over the species of a ‘witness’. In Inner London Crown Court some years ago keen defence counsel spotted the CPS had omitted a key eyewitness from the index of witnesses. They demanded the officer was warned to attend court.

    When the case came in off the warned list, the ‘officer’ received an overnight warning via the CJU. Come the day of trial, the witness did not attend. The officer-in-the-case (being from CID and had not attended the scene) had no idea who the witness was, and was sent off with a flea in his ear to make enquries.

    The response to the court warning was on the noticeboard in the PLO’s office for years to come:”Wuff wuff, where’s the sausages”.

  3. I cannot applaud you loudly enough and echo your sentiments and observations whole heartedly.
    Having worked in the Police force for 30 years as support staff in a number of roles including Command & Control; Operations and primarily and most loved Traffic I can concur that you have to be a certain breed to not only survive but cope with some of the most harrowing situations life and the great British public throw at you. Without sensitivity AND a particular sense of hunour you just wouldn’t survive. Humour is the defence mechanism which helps us all cope mentally with trauma. Sadly that ethos and the camaraderie between partner organisations has been eroded by successive Governments and Managers hell bent on promoting themselves and political correctness without any consideration for support and survival of fellow officers and colleagues. I took early retirement/voluntary redundancy with mixed emotions but know the “dinosaurs” I worked with (like me) are just a phone call away should we ever need each other and our “family” will still find the “peculiar” sense of humour we’ve always had a massive safety net in times of difficulty & duress.
    Take care and keep fighting the good fight.
    Be safe
    Berni

  4. Maybe they were concerned that serving that extra page caused an increase of £0.03 in the CPS budget – that seems to be their general attitude.

    But completely agree – good to see some people with a sense of humour still…

  5. Reblogged this on To the left of centre and commented:
    Some of this is very funny. Not quite sure what to make of the Chris Rock video. I’ve never really like his humour and can’t quite decide if I think it’s funny (I did laugh) or somewhat inappropriate. A combination of the two really, which was the point of the post I guess.

    1. I think it was funny but it was oddly both biting and quite subtle. It blamed the victims of police violence for what had happened to them. But underlying this I think is the assumption that the audience would realise something is wrong with this. My guess is that many black Americans know only too well that whilst the police are often provoked, they are far more likely to beat up a black person than a white person.
      The sketch is meant to make you uncomfortable so that you sit there and find yourself thinking ‘yes, he’s right, if you don’t carry a gun and if you behave yourself you’ll be fine’. Then gradually the examples become more extreme until you get to ‘if you must have a friend, make him a white friend’ it’s at this point, if not well before, that you should realise you are being played. Why the assumption that white is OK, that a white person won’t carry a gun, or drugs, or play loud music? Rock is pushing you to examine stereotypes. Finally you get to ‘don’t have a mad woman in the car’. Then you should know what Rock is up to. It’s pastiche, or perhaps parody. You start off gently with ‘look it’s the black guy’s fault’ before slowly being brought round to the realisation that no, it’s the way that white people view black people and their stereotyping of black Americans that is the problem.
      NB I do know that the police do difficult jobs under difficult circumstances. I do know that many of them are very good at what they do. There are a few however who give the rest a bad reputation.

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