I generally consider myself pro-law enforcement. I thought about it after this morning’s unexciting excitement. I was in the Boy Scouts for a number of years, and remember the emergency preparedness, safety, and leadership training (only some of it, but not all of it), namely the parts about not getting in the way.

Law enforcement is a tough job. If it’s anything like what I’ve heard about it, a big part of the job is not getting bored while waiting for the worst to happen. There’s patrolling, which is boring, and there’s waiting for an emergency, which is boring and nerve-wracking, and then there’s incident reports to be filled out and false alarms to put up with — there’s nothing glamorous about the job whatsoever.

And it’s just that — it’s a job. The people working in law enforcement are doing a job, just like everyone else. They’re normal people with hobbies and interests, quirks and personalities like your friends and family and neighbors. Not only that, but they have a really crappy job. They get called in when people are misbehaving, and no one wants to do that — but at least these guys get paid to do it.

Looking back on this morning, I want to kick myself for not taking a moment to thank the guys there for keeping me safe — just by existing. I understand how deterrents work, and the upbringing, scruples, or life experience isn’t enough, or fear of divine retribution just doesn’t work, sometimes a more secular touch is required.

…Anyway, this has me on the track of thinking about law enforcement in a world where law doesn’t exist, such as in Rumors of War. Sure, there are traditions, cultural implications, and divine laws, but who’s there to enforce them? The community has to designate someone to deal with problems, or the entire community gets together and decides together. That’s what kings and elder councils are for, generally.

But there’s a key element of law enforcement that isn’t covered by your typical council of elders or stately tyrant — and that’s prevention. In fiction, they’re mostly there to mete out punishments and proclaim draconic edicts to impede the heroes. What do they do to stop crimes from happening? It’s the purview of the citizens to watch out for each other, and step in to advise both sides before punishment is necessary.

So, is there a town watch? Sometimes. But I think they’re mostly there to protect the town from outside threats, not internal strife. Sure, they might be called upon to answer certain troubles, but when you live in a world of gods and monsters, I think you’re going to be more worried about the things that will knock down your house and eat you up than … well, it’s a bit of a stretch, but stress can do that too.

The Order of Orion could nearly fill the role of law enforcement, except that they’re more of a private-investigator type of agency (in addition to being explorers and treasure-hunters) than a beat cop type of group, or a night watch. You never know, though. We could look forward to some sleuthing or law-enforcing or detective-ing at some point in the future, to a CSI: Mycenae level. …YEAAAAHHHHHH!