Years ago, when I was just a wee fella, I lived with my family up in the jewel of the North, Kaikohe. I remember one day running to my poor long suffering Mum whining bitterly about something my evil older brother had done. I don’t recall exactly what it was that he had been doing, probably punching me on the arm for the amusement of his friends or something, but I recall clearly the reception I received.
Basically it came down to sage advice along the lines of, “oh for goodness sake, toughen up“. Then the words that probably every one of us has heard from our Mums at some point, “Nobody likes a tattle-tale“.
Then about twenty years later, after I had learned to harden up a bit, and so I could get back at people like my brother, I joined the Cops. And this is where I really learned that nobody likes a tattle-tale.
Outwardly, Police just love informants. They can be extremely useful at times. But we hate them too. In the minds of Police, there is no one lower than an informant. To Police, informants are scum. Informants are to be used, then thrown away.
You might be shocked at just how many official informants are on the books at your local station. Records of informant details are tightly kept, usually by a Detective Senior Sergeant. There was no way for instance, that I could take a quick peek at who was on the list, but let me assure you, that list was long and distinguished. There was barely a crim in town who wasn’t on the list of paid narcs. And all of them thought they were special.
If my staff weren’t cultivating at least one new informant each week, then they weren’t trying hard enough. We would even get new people coming to town being introduced by whichever cop was running them back in their home town.
Plenty of crime gets solved using informants, but there is a lot of money paid out to these losers too. Even back when I was in the job, it wasn’t unusual to drop a few hundred bucks to these criminals for dropping their mates in it. Burglary was the big thing back then as it was nice to be able to get property back for people, drugs not so much. Even then small time dealers really weren’t worth paying out for, but give us good info on a commercial grower, then you might get a quiet hundy.
The problem is, all these informants think they are the big guy. They have absolutely no compunction ratting out even close friends if there is something in it for them. As they say, there is no honour among thieves. And maybe it is because of this lack of honour that Cops hate informants so much.
But even though you consider them to be losers, these were people who you would do what you needed to do to keep happy, because you just never knew when one of them would come up trumps with really important information. There would be very few murders in New Zealand for instance that wouldn’t have had input from informants. So you would be grateful to those ones, but you would still think that they were scumbags.
So is this how your Government think of you? They extol you to give up your neighbours if they go for a drive. They implore you to narc on that group of blokes playing footy in the park. They set up special websites just so you can anonymously dob in your boss, or your butcher, or your wife.
And just like the Police’s love/hate relationship with narcs, your Government is sending out mixed messages.
Be Kind. (Because if you don’t, we’re going to smash you). Help your neighbours. (But keep an eye on them incase they’re up to no good). Don’t go driving unnecessarily. (But make sure you let us know who else is at the beach while you’re there).
And when we have even Members of Parliament gleefully admitting to being hateful narcs, the Police will be publicly saying ‘Thanks, you’re a big help‘, but privately they will no doubt be saying ‘what a maggot‘.
So let’s keep the telling of tales for the things that matter. If you can help solve a murder, great, jump on the phone. If you have information on a boat full of meth, perfect, the Feds will be happy to hear from you, but if your life is so lacking purpose that you need to tell on people who are standing too close together at the beach, do us all a favour and pop back inside and do a sudoku or something.
You might think that your Government will love you, but actually they will be just the same as the Police, they will think you are scum, and will drop you as soon as they are finished bleeding you.
So at the risk of sounding like your Mum, harden up, and stop telling tales. No one likes a tell-tale-tit.
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