You know the other day I was talking about the police here in Romania and I realized I should be a little more clear on a couple of points.
The first is that the police in Romania are roughly divided into three separate (but equal?) groups. First is the Traffic Police, who handle just about anything to do with roads and driving on roads and highways. The second is the Gendarmes, which have no equivalent in the USA but essentially are used (usually en masse) to preserve general order. And the third is the Police Police, who generally are responsible for crime prevention, apprehension of suspects and the issuing of fines and citations (other than for traffic violations).
Of course there are other departments and specialties. When you first cross into Romania you will meet the Border and Customs police, which are a separate unit. But throughout the years I’ve had dealings with all the various kinds of police. Even though I’ve never driven a car here in Romania, I’ve traveled thousands of kilometers by automobile, been in a crash or two and thus have dealt with the Traffic Police as well.
My extremely simple summary is this – overall the police here are great. Are there some corrupt thieves? Yes, but those can be found in any country. Are there some loutish morons who tend to abuse their powers? Of course. I know one right here in Sectia 3 in Cluj and nothing gives me greater pleasure than sticking my video camera in his fat face and watching him squirm as he struggles to reign in his natural tendencies.
But again, overall the police here are just fine. They may not have a lot of sophisticated technology and they may not ever engage in “hot pursuit” of fleeing vehicles and they may be sometimes bureaucratic and stodgy but overall they do a fine job. I’ve been dealing with them for years, far more often than any ordinary citizen would, and I am telling you unabashedly that they are doing their job pretty damn well overall.
On the other hand, these assholes are cowards and craven dicks and I have been quite open about telling them this to their “face”.
These are the mascatii, literally “the masked ones”, which are either a special division of the local Gendarmes or else members of various specialized task forces (DIICOT has a lot of them). They rarely carry guns but you can be sure they will otherwise be dressed as wannabe SWAT members, including a bulky vest (sometimes bulletproof) with lots of pockets and of course the obligatory stormtrooper boots. For some inexplicable reason, a lot of the mascatii tend to be overweight too like the fat fuck in the photo above but I don’t know why.
Ask a Romanian civilian why a member of their law enforcement branch needs to hide his cowardly face behind a mask and they will mumble something about “protection”, as in the mask somehow protects the law enforcement “officer” from something. From what? Supposedly from recrimination or blowback or perhaps even from being identified so it doesn’t blow their “cover”.
Notice I keep saying “supposedly” because there’s not a shred of truth about any of this. The other day I saw Victor Stanculescu, a former Communist general serving a 15-year sentence, being transported to a court to file papers in an attempt to get released. When they popped the back of the police van there were three ordinary officers in uniform leading the elderly man out of the vehicle and then one of these mascat idiots. Why? Why does anyone need a masked officer to help transport a man who has been convicted years ago, who is going to court solely to file an appeal?
The answer of course is there is no reason.
Likewise, you will see these mascatii punks in the news regularly, sometimes kicking in doors and harassing elderly women. Sometimes these craven assholes drive over pedestrians while riding around in their crappy Volkswagen vans. Sometimes these shit for brains beat up university professors. Other times they pull out pistols and threaten journalists.
I personally ran into them last year when a group of no fewer than seven mascati came into a popular downtown club and then had the owner shut down the music. Absolutely no explanation was given and we sat there for more than 20 minutes, not understanding what was going on. I was sitting within eyesight of the exit and I can assure you no one was hauled off to jail. Instead, these fat masked pigs just stood around and refused to let the music get turned back on.
Finally, my friends and I just left. We walked out of the door without showing any ID or anything else. So what were the mascatii doing there? No one will ever know. There was never a single mention in the media about it. I never saw a single person get arrested. The club is still in business today and I never heard another thing about it. All I know is that when I left I said to the nearest masked wonder boy, “Fuck you, coward” in English and then went on my merry way.
Even when the mascatii are doing their job “properly” (whatever that is), and kicking down doors of dangerous, armed criminals and hauling off real bad guys to jail, the masks are totally unnecessary. There isn’t a single masked law enforcement official in the United States, Britain or any of the formerly British colonies (Canadia, Australia, etc). Even hundreds of years ago the only masked “law enforcement official” was the executioner, and that wasn’t to hide his name or identity. In fact, most executioners were quite famous.
There are three major problems when an agent of the state is authorized to use force but is given license to hide his identity and face:
1 – Undemocratic
Nobody else working for the State has the ability to cloak their identities. No matter what the State ever does to you, whether reduce your pension, cut off your electricity, sentence you to jail or evict you from a property, there’s always a person’s name behind it. There’s always a signature at the bottom of the letter. And this means you can always theoretically find redress, even if you have to go to the European Court of Human Rights, because ultimately you know who authorized the actions against you.
But if a masked man beats the crap out of you or pulls a pistol on you or otherwise harms you unlawfully, you have no way to redress your grievances against him. How can you? You can’t see his face and he damn sure isn’t wearing a name tag on his uniform. So it is completely unfair and undemocratic that an agent of the state can take action against you but you can’t know who it is that is doing it to you.
2 – Undermines state authority
If a police officer has to wear a mask for his own safety, what does that say about the government he is working for? It says it is unable to protect him. And what good is a police force if they can’t even protect their own officers? Surely if they’re unable to do that then they will be unable to protect the peace of the public at large.
American (and British, etc) police officers manage to arrest and prosecute criminals, thugs, gangsters and terrorists all the time without resorting to masks and yet still manage to keep their police officers alive. So why can’t Romania do the same? Obviously if they can’t then they are admitting that they’re weak and powerless.
3 – Easy as hell to impersonate
I used to know an old crusty police sergeant who would drill the recruits every year down at the academy, “What’s the most important tool an officer has?” The answer of course is his or her uniform.
Uniforms, even here in Romania, are purposefully emblazoned with all kinds of insignia and markings precisely so that when you see a police officer, you know instantly that he or she is a police officer. That is how you recognize them, not by asking them to show you their identification. It’s the uniform and hat and shoulder patches and all of the rest which instantly convey a police officer’s authority as an agent of the State.
But these asshole mascatii have no uniform. They look like any old dime store security firm guard plus a ski mask. I could dress as a mascat in 10 minutes if I wanted to and so could any criminal, as many have done. Why not? A cheap pair of boots, a stupid black vest and a knit ski cap and magic presto you’re a “police officer”.
It is incredibly stupid and dumb to have a uniform that is no uniform at all. Then the ordinary people have no idea who is a genuine “police officer” and who is simply a mask-wearing criminal. Or maybe a genuine mascat officer feels like committing a little crime on the side. Who is to know the difference, really?
And I may be wrong about this but I do not believe that the old Communist regime ever stooped so low as to use mascatii. Certainly I’ve never seen a photograph of one or heard stories of the Securitate or other Communist-era police forces using such an idiotic technique as hiding their agents behind stupid ski masks.
The Communists were sadistic sons of bitches but they damn sure weren’t so stupid as the “democratic” Romanian government that we have today. The Communists might’ve tortured you and sent you to jail for your beliefs but your family damn sure always got a signed letter from the official who authorized it. That’s because Ceausescu and his minions believed in their government and didn’t undermine it by saying they needed to hide their agents under a cheap mask to “protect” them.
If Romanians ever want a free and fair society, a good first step would be to get rid of these masked morons as quickly as possible.
PS – if any mascati read this and feel offended, my picture and name is everywhere so feel free to contact me and we’ll meet face to face because I am not afraid of you. I stand by my words and actions, unlike you punk cowards!