Monday, March 26, 2012

Police box

It is still cold around here and the flowers aren't ready to bud... Choco and I went for a walk through the fields but everything is still brown. The farmers are starting to put their fields in order for flooding later next month.

So... what can I show you? Hmmm... In the distance there are two buildings. A police box and a motel. Police boxes abound in Japan and one time they were very highly regarded. For years, Japan's low crime rate was attributed to the many neighborhood police boxes and the devoted police officers. Unfortunately the crime rate is rising in Japan despite police boxes and hard-working policemen...

The neighborhood police officer is a very nice young man and he and his wife live in the quarters behind the police box front room. He has a little black and white car that looks much like a wind up toy car and he patrols the district daily. Every morning he often drives along the roads while the children are walking to school and he nods and salutes me at my crosswalk corner. I guess I don't need big, mean and brawny, but the cute little car that he drives doesn't give him an air of authority. I don't think he carries a gun either but I'm not sure about that...

So, when do people go to the police box? I've reported a stolen bicycle, broken water pipes at weekend homes, stray dogs, found wallets, and dangerous debris in the tunnel. Last year Tetsu and I brought an obaachan whom I had noticed wandering the streets to the local police box. The police officer makes an appearance at the elementary school entrance and graduation ceremonies and he teaches a class on safety at the school each year (and there are three elementary schools in the district so he must be kept busy.) If the police officer isn't there, then his wife will file the report and relay the message to him when he gets back or of course if the problem is major, call the police station.

Unfortunately our little town has had its share of real crime... and the police have been somewhat effectual but not exactly speedy about solving mysteries... An arsonist set fire to 5 homes in our neighborhood a few years ago but it took months to catch the criminal red-handed. (The poor neighborhood policeman patrolled in the middle of the night too.) A few years ago a child was kidnapped and killed not far from where I live... That has never been solved and the police still pass out flyers asking for information.... The job of a policeman is never-ending and they are never allowed their own time while criminals are at large... and criminals will always be at large.

Sometimes the news reports incidents where a policeman has used his gun which resulted in injury or the death of someone (so I guess he DOES have one) and the policeman is severely criticized and accused of being gun happy. We often hear of hoodlums who flaunt their noses at the police who have their hands tied and can't really do anything except caution and threaten. Again, I'm not advocating abuse and violence but it does seem to me that the Japanese police are turning into "nice guys" who can't really do anything and don't have a lot of power behind them. That was fine when Japan was a fairly peaceful country but maybe we need a little bit more "meat" on police power nowadays.

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