home - contact - credits - new - links - history - maps - art - story
comic strips - editorial - souvenirs - Yahoo forum
Update Art & Links: 16 December 2015
Policing the Spontoon Archipelago
commentary by Ken Fletcher
views by Brock, Clark, & Shiffman
Constable Sgt. in Summer Dress Uniform
Sergeant Brush & Inspector Stagg,
Detectives of the Spontoon Island Constabulary
Portraits by Warren Hutch - Characters by E.O. Costello
The Casebook of Inspector Stagg
(Links to detective stories by E.O. Costello)
commentary by Ken Fletcher
(with inspiration from many contributors)
The Spontoon Island Contabulary is a formal expression of the police powers of the local government of the Spontoon Island Archipelago. By ‘formal’, this means that it is public, with a visible presence of uniformed officers, is always seen to be on duty, and it can be used for ceremonial functions.
Besides securing the peace of the Spontoon community, the Constabulary is intended to be very visible to visitors, tourists, the resident non-citizen Euro community, and other observers who expect a familiar-looking police force.
There are many layers of policing powers that the Spontoon community calls upon for protection, depending on their actual needs. These layers range from informal interventions by neighbors & elders up to area signals calling for intervention by the Spontoon Island Citizen’s Militia or units of the Rain Island Naval Syndicate. (The other services will be outlined elsewhere.) The Constabulary is a mid-range response that is always publicly visible.
The Constabulary Services (Sub-Committee) is part of the Interior Committee (Ministry of the Interior) which in turn answers to the Althing Executive Committee, which answers to the Althing. The ‘Althing’ is a governing body of all community citizens over the age of 18. Most governing committees are small and efficient, with committee members usually elected by the Althing from staff members with experience. ‘Ministry’ is the term most often used for the benefit of outsiders; ‘Committee’ is the term most often used by the Althing. Some of the Constabulary Ministries have been of better quality than others. Politics can happen.
The Chief Constable is an appointed, paid position. The Chief has a small support staff at the Headquarters offices, some of them part-time committee members. The Constabulary Headquarters is on Meeting Island. Telephone, radio, telegraph, letters, and heliograph are used to relay information. There are a lot of messages and reports generated: Briefings of large groups of officers are rare. The Constables do use a chain-of-command, military ranks, and have badges for use with informal wear, working uniforms, & dress uniforms (used for specific duties).
Constables have at least a high school education, have been in the Militia, and have some police training at the tech school.
The Archipelago is divided into patrol districts, with small Constable Stations (usually in a village), often sharing office space with the village Watch and Militia. There is a larger Constable Station at the main village on the south coast of Main Island. Each station may have up to 1 to 3 constables on duty at the station or patroling, often depending on Watch Committee members to be a presense in the office. On most of the Archipelago, Constables are expected to be a respected part of the community, known by sight; informally dressed, but with at least a badge. They are assumed to have a weapon available. In an emergency, they are a contact with outside resources from other Spontoonies. Ideally they work in cooperation with all the local social and political groups; they are prepared to work alone. For the villagers in their patrol districts, they represent the overall executive functions of the Althing, and it is understood that a Constable has a duty to take action protecting the intrests of the entire Spontoon community.
The Constabulary has a sightly different role in the areas of the islands where Euros live: They become token representatives of the political power of the Althing. Most Euros are not Spontoon Island citizens (though they have rights and some self-government). The Spontoon Island Althing allows Euro non-citizens to lease land on Casino Island, Moon Island (the naval base) and parts of Eastern Island (airfield, port areas, & plantations) and South Island (the resort hotel areas). The largest concentration of Euro residents is on Casino Island: about half the population living there.
The Constabulary has a very visible presense in the Euro areas, especially where there are tourists. More formal constable uniforms are the rule in tourist areas, and on Casino Island even outside of the tourist season. Any area with Euro visitors, such as the ports and seaplane bases are likely to see uniformed Spontoon Constables on patrol.
On Casino Island, the Spontoon Island Constabulary has a station (& some watch boxes/police phones) and officers, and the constabulary and reps of the Althing (Spontoonie) government participate in Casino Island Neighborhood Watch Councils.
Casino Island has it's own representative town/island government,similar to a British Colonial or USA Colonial model, and is semi-autonomous within the Spontoon Island government style. The political attitudes on Casino Island are merchant/libertarian. The residential areas of Casino Island are quiet tropical-suburban places to live. In the 1930s most all of the public areas of this lively island are safe to stroll through, even at night. It is well policed for an urban area of the time. Some of the 'policing' from the Neighborhood Watch may not be obvious....
There are several *small* private police forces on Casino Island, of various levels of competency, probity, & accountability. They were set up by the equivalent of "Merchant's & Warehouser's Protective Associations" (Tongs under other names?). This is a matter of some delicacy, as some of the reason for their existence was hijackings sponsored by other merchants. Everyone acts nice in public by the 1930s, and even nice most of the time in private. It might be possible at times to confuse the style of these private police with semi-criminal protection syndicates. They do seem well controled, for the most part, and seem to act more like the old-fashioned private fire departments that were sponsored by fire insurance companies in the 18th century. There is a lot of co-operation between these Euro police units (& the Spontoonie constabulary).This is probably an example of "Enlightened Self-Interest."
The casinos also have their own security staff, of course; some small, some larger.
You can expect that there are areas (bounded by informal understanding) where a certain level of petty crime is tolerated by the authorities as part of the expected entertainment of tourists and sailors. A few of the blocks near the docks are that way. In other areas of Casino Island (and most of the other locations in the Atoll), the "Neighborhood Watch" might be very intense--not even counting the Constabulary, who are only the most visible part of the local security infrastructure…
The Spontoon Island Constables on Casino Island are there to protect tourists & visitors from any predatory excesses, and to act as a reinforcement to the Casino Island police forces. They can also act as mediators among factions within the Euro community and a representative contact point with the Althing Committees. They are available to help deal with crimes of theft and violence. They also watch the mood of the Euro community and visitors, and are an open source of information to the Althing Security Committees.
There are other policing functions that the Constabulary perform on all parts of the Archipelago. They informally keep track of visitors and transients. Some visitors are discouraged from lingering. As one example, uninvited visits to the Main Island are discouraged, as are ‘squatters’ on Eastern and South Islands. They also assist the work of the Import Inspections Committee. Some forms of imports and brokering are discouraged.
You can assume that there are some regional islands that are "embargoed" by Spontoon Island or regional peacekeepers, with travel & trade cut off, and isolated for the good of their neighbors. Bad habits, maybe, or mad scientists (Cranium Island) or evangelical cults. (At least embargoed as much as might be possible in a situation with canoes, seaplanes and submarines!) There are a lot of small islands in the Nimitz Sea around the Spontoon Archipelago, most of them with pleasant social variations, and maybe some with social variations that are not-so-pleasant….
The story by EO Costello, The Wolf Without Wings, on the website Story Page, is a dramatic detective story. It also happens to show the politics of the start of a professional Constabulary Detective service in 1934, and gives a clear view of how the formal sections of the Constabulary would interact with visitors and the Euro community.
Cartoon art of Constables by Joyceanna Brock, Dennis Clark, Rich Larson & Stu Shiffman allow us to see some Constables in dress uniform, and also the more informal ‘tiki shirt’ school of constable!
The Althing Historical Committee gives its thanks!
Organizations with security responsibilities
Constabulary Ministry Committee
Constable A'hataman'a of a district on the
(picture & biographical sketch by Brock & Clark)
Inspector Levene, Cpl. Brak, & tourist
Corporal Brak prepares to mediate a cultural mis-understanding