Being a criminology student, I am often asked if I am aiming to become a police officer. No. Sometimes I am asked if my program is even like “that show, you know, CSI.” No, again. My dream job would have to do with something related to policy, law, and research. All three are related in some way. Maybe one day I may work with policing agencies but I think it would not be in a way that I am on their pay roll (at least I wouldn’t want it to be that way), and nothing against those who wish to be apart of policing agencies whether it is as a civilian or not.
Given my past experience with policing agencies, I have grown accustomed to not wanting to deal with police. Not because all are bad apples. Rather it is more of a problem with the entire system in general. The people within the system do not make the system bad. It is the system that produces the problems that are prevalent within it, some people included. The policing agencies can be described front-line enforcers of the entire system. So, you always meet them first before you come across any other key players/institutions.
I remember my interview with Black Coffee Poet and I stated, “In terms of my involvement with the police, I cannot name one positive experience. My identity as an Aboriginal is most often the identity that police see first, and when they see that first, they often make generalizations about me as an Aboriginal woman before anything else.” And it did not matter if I was victim or an offender, my experiences were not positive up until this summer.
My first involvement with the justice system was when I was a youth. My last involvement was approximately 3-5 years ago (it’s kind of faded my memory around that time, and it’s the kind of thing I would rather not remember). However, this summer, I had to come into contact with a policing agency member. I was nervous about having to speak with this member from the moment he knocked on the door. I was too nervous to answer his questions or give a statement (I was on the victim-side of the system this time). I was also too nervous to go back to the detachment centre because I didn’t want to give a statement. From my previous experience with the justice system as a victim and giving statements, I recall it being entirely intrusive, violating, and revictimizing. This was something I just did not want to trigger (and these feelings had already been trigger by just talking to the member, and unrelated to the incidence in question). I was extremely worried to experience victim-blaming all over again because in all honestly, this incidence could have been avoided. I felt horrible as it was after it happened. “Would I be further blamed for the incidence itself?” was the question that kept scrolling through the back of my mind.
Needless to say, I am happy to report that I had my first positive experience with a policing agency. None of what I thought was going to happen based on my previous experience with policing agencies had occurred. While I had legitimate reasons to believe everything was going to occur, based on my history in the system, I am very happy that I didn’t retreat from this entire experience because of my past triggering my present. I am happy that I took this as a chance to learn about myself, others, and to begin to see my experiences as not entirely 100% negative.
The most heartbreaking part of this whole learning experience is still remembering that not everyone involved in the system, whether it be victim or offender, can say the same thing. My heart goes out to all those stuck in the system or lost in the system.