The Vigilant

The Watch Constabulary, on the whole, does not think of itself as a police force.

But that’s not a problem, because no-one else thinks of them as one either.

While their watchmen, constables, and inspectors are trained for situations in which the application of force may be necessary, these are not their business¹, and nor is this the primary thrust of their training. Indeed, these skills are almost never, if ever, used; the bread and butter of the constabulary day consists of giving directions, rescuing kittens from trees, reporting issues local maintenance might have missed, returning lost children and dogs, offering a listening ear and a helping hand, arbitrating minor neighborhood disputes, and aiding the aged and infirm on such rare occasions as they can find any. Notable, too, is the incorporation of the Disaster Instant Response teams, the Quenchers, and Gaëlenén’s Scalpel into the Watch Constabulary’s structure as specialists, and the extensive cross-training of all constabulary personnel in the basics of disaster response and paramedicine.

To some extent, this nature is both cause and consequence of the Empire’s implausibly² low crime rate. For the greater part, however, it is merely a matter of ideology. While a society built around the principles of consent and obligation may occasionally find it both necessary and ethically permissible to make use of responsive force – or even preemptive responsive force – it would be nothing short of reprehensible and indeed outright counterproductive to embody this necessity in those charged to preserve the public safety and harmony.

– Ten Thousand Parts in Approximate Formation: The Empire from Outside


  1. As previously mentioned, the Empire elects to separate the traditional police functions of patrol, investigation (see Office of Investigation and Pursuit) and force-application in exceptional circumstances (which, on the rare occasions it is required, is the province of the local military garrison), insofar as the skills and traits required for each function are highly divergent and rarely overlap.
  2. Statistical information on this was rejected by the Conclave Commission on Uniform Security on several occasions, until the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity invited the Commission to observe their operations up close. Current thinking, depending on the inclinations of the observer, attributes it to a combination of radical freedom, radical abundance, liberal use of meme rehab, and a steadfast commitment – contra the majority of polities – to deporting all their incorrigibles.

Sniffers

Yes, putting guardian dogs on police department logos is a cliché.

But what’s important in this case is the kind of dog. Look at it. Big, broad-chested mastiff. Pure black fur. Black eyes. Disappears into shadows despite being near big enough to ride. That’s a Selenarian nighthound, the kind they used to guard the moon-temples back before history. Best known for three things: they’re silent when they hunt, never letting you know they’re there until they’re on you; once they have their teeth in your throat, they never let you go; and they never stop coming.

So when you see this kindly gent on the arms of the Office of Investigation and Pursuit, Division of Chattelry, you should not need the motto beneath to tell you the nature of the jurisdiction you are within.

It does, however, tell you why. “He who guards a thing, guarants a thing.” This is one of the few places in the galaxy where not only is the Constabulary mandated to protect you and yours, but also to make you good for any occasion on which they fail.

The costs aren’t the real reason, though. It’s the promise – like everyone else in these parts, they hate it when someone presumes to break their word for them, and so cost-effective or not, they’ll hunt you to the ends of the Worlds over a trifle just to keep it unbroken.

So before you commit to this and drag me along with you, convince me that the game is worth the candle?

– recorded via laser microphone 6145/03/02,
Ashe’s Place, Socket City, Opteros (Iesa Drifts),
Office of Investigation and Pursuit, case #6145/729

Trope-a-Day: Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement

Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement: Standards vary acutely, depending on where in the Worlds you are.  The Empire’s Watch Constabulary and the PPLs signatory to the Warden-Bastion Compact occupy the idealistic end of the scale (well, one idealistic end of the scale, since they’re perfectly happy to shoot people who won’t surrender if they’re caught in the middle of their special crime) with their great, great respect for individual rights and people’s lack of guilt until formally convicted, willingness to wade in and help out, and generally go above and beyond.

The other end of the scale is, as usual, Nepscia and its fellow Wretched Hives – where “law enforcement” generally means “the biggest brute squad in the vicinity”.  Various more authoritarian states and less scrupulous PPLs occupy the wide, wide middle ground, here.

Trope-a-Day: Police Brutality

Police Brutality: Usually averted, day to day, as the Watch Constabulary is very well trained, highly disciplined, and – as the instrument of force that is legally permitted to apply it, law for the enforcement of – rigorously monitored and audited to make sure that it’s doing it properly.  Especially where the rights of the accused-and-therefore-not-yet-determined-to-be-guilty are concerned.

Played straight in a lethal, although not any other, sense inasmuch as the Empire, in general, maintains a very broad right of self- and other- and property defense where the regular citizen-shareholders are concerned – which is to say, there isn’t a reasonable force doctrine and you can shoot at criminals to protect any of those – and while the police are somewhat more restricted in that they’re obliged to try and arrest you, they aren’t actually any more restricted than regular citizen-shareholders where preventing crimes in progress are concerned if you are unwilling to be arrested.  Criminals caught by the Constabulary in the commission of a crime are advised to surrender immediately, for this reason.

Subverted where riots, occupations, and suchlike are concerned, inasmuch as Imperial law classifies these sorts of things as “insurrection”, and while the police won’t be brutal, that’s because insurrection is a military matter – and the situation will therefore be handled by people for whom “arrest” is outside their job description.

Trope-a-Day: Instant Emergency Response

Instant Emergency Response: As a side effect of the AI monitors on the raw feed mentioned under Big Brother Is Watching, which both make sure response is dispatched to observed crimes and accidents as they happen, and which are happy to use predictive algorithms to make sure that its in place before they happen; and inasmuch as the various emergency services have widely distributed robot hotels to make sure that they can at least get cybershell feet or wing on the ground very rapidly, emergency response is very rapid, and most of the time, you dont need to explicitly call it in if youre in public.