Garda reserves?

Garda siochanaWelcome to the Garda Síochána. As their website says, “We do hope that you like it.”

This is not the welcome that new garda reeserve recruits will be having when they show up for training.

Gardai (pronounced “gahr-DEE”) is the Irish name for policeman, in case you were wondering.

There are numerous instances of crime here in Ireland that the Gardai are unable to deal with, due to lack of manpower. I know, for example, of a violent incident in Ballymahon village a few weeks ago wherein a man was almost beaten to death before enough gardai could be rounded up from other districts to successfully intervene. Last year I heard two stories of a whole town being closed off with roadblocks to let a violent family feud burn itself out due to lack of garda personnell.

Obviously, something needs to be done.

So, some time last year a proposal was floated to recruit an auxillary volunteer force of civilians to supplement the Gardai as reserve gardai. They’ve already done this in the UK and deputy policemen are quite common in the states. In other words, a reserve police force can work quite well in helping to keep the peace.

The Irish gardai are vehemently opposed to it.

The minister for justice is implementing it anyway, against their wishes.

Today the Donegal spokesperson for the Garda Representative Association, General Secretary PJ Stone, vociferously expressed his objections, telling RTÉ News that new Garda Reserve recruits will be “despised and hated” when they join the force. He echoes many gardai’s sentiments in saying he’s “bitterly disappointed the Minister for Justice has downgraded the professionalism of the gardai by allowing the Garda Reserve to go ahead”.

One has to wonder, why are they so opposed to this? I know stateside that a lot of deputy reservists undertake the training and part-time work in hopes of becoming a fulltime policeman. If nothing else, what better way to build up a body of potential fulltime garda recruits?

Irish headlines are full of violent crime. Anyone volunteering to help out has got to be pretty brave. Adding the “despite and hatred” of your superiors to your on-the-job concerns surely can’t be a good idea.

Come on people, how can integrating more civilians into a force meant to protect and serve civilians be a bad idea? Having lived in Berkeley, California for a number of years I can testify firsthand to the dangers of having a policeforce too far removed from the population they have to work with.

Bring on the reservists.

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