I wanted to share my brief thoughts about Ireland’s police force, An Garda Síochána na hÉireann ((Awn GAR-da shee-KAWna na CHAIR-uhn) “Guard of the Peace of Ireland”).
The feel of the po-po, as Ima call our dear black-donned protective sistas and brothas in the States for purposes of this post to let you know via a loquacious sentence, contrasts sharply to the Gardaí ((Gar-DEE) “Guardians”)). Though the two countries’ forces essentially share the same role, the Guards of Ireland feel to me WAY less like a force, that is way less menacing, than United Statesese fuzz.
The main reason for this methinks? Guns.
The Gardai are mostly an unarmed police force. That makes them, if anything, loads less intimidating. It changes the whole relationship between police and citizenry. It mediates excess use of force. It’s rather humane, altogether. Plus, Gardaí don’t carry around batons, and aren’t suited up with various accessories that make them seem like a slightly less-souped-up version of Terminator.
Another reason the Gardaí seem less scary is that I’m living in a small town. This is smalltown Ireland. This is not Cork, Belfast, Limerick, or Dublin — cities that have plenty of crime. Castletownbere has a high level of social capital; most people know (or, ack! are related to one another) each other. One example is the police chief in town, who MCed a few events at the Festival of the Sea in late July. See, there’s just not that much crime here, at least outdoors…
So, Dear Underappreciated Body of Readers (DUBOR). WHATUPDUBOR! Do you feel equally about the police in the US? Are they intimidating due to their armament, other qualities or what?