“It’s no good, calling the police,” I explained.
“Why not? It’s their job to protect us!”
I understood my nephew’s frustration. Our once-beautiful town of Ecclesia has for years been overridden with crime. The police have apparently given up. For a while they did the rounds, making an appearance of fighting crime, while in reality looking the other way. Now they don’t even bother to do that.
I wasn’t around during the “good old days,” but older neighbors tell me Ecclesia was quite different then. Not that everything was perfect, but at least there was a concerted effort to fight crime when it occurred. And usually the police were successful. But something happened in the years just before I was born. The police decided that criminals needed to be “engaged” instead of combatted. This, the argument went, would stop them from being criminals.
Of course, the opposite happened: the tactic just emboldened them to commit more crimes. Most police officers simply stopped enforcing the laws, afraid of going against the new push for “engagement.” Some of the police even joined the criminals, while remaining on the force. It was an open secret that the local drug gang was led by a police lieutenant.
Some of us decided to go to state officials to complain. We told them time and time again of crimes going unpunished. We wrote letters recounting families torn apart by criminals run amok. We begged them to step in and replace our ineffectual and corrupt police force. Instead, they gave our high-ranking police officers awards for their “excellent work.” We realized that we wouldn’t be getting help from higher-ups. The solution wasn’t going to come from the capital.
We had enough. We decided to form a private security force to combat the rise in crime in Ecclesia. If the police wouldn’t resist crime, then we would. We would patrol the streets. We would find ways to prevent young people from joining gangs. We would stop letting criminals run the streets.
What was the response of the police? They condemned us! They said that it wasn’t our job to defend Ecclesia. Leave it to them. The police threatened arrest for those who didn’t abandon the effort to stop crime. A few people resolved to defend our town anyway, but most of us gave up. With both the police and the criminals against us, the cause appeared hopeless.
Crime is a fact of life in Ecclesia. We look the other way. Sometimes a young person will become upset when a crime occurs, but he’ll be told there’s nothing he can do. Eventually he accepts reality. What is that reality? That our once-glorious town of Ecclesia is not so glorious anymore.
But a small number of families are quietly teaching our children about Ecclesia’s past. We dream that one day things will change. Although the apathy of the police is pervasive, we hope a new generation will build a restored Ecclesia.