The Values Police, from a fictional policeman

Ullholm is a cop who, along with Rönn, is waiting at a hospital to get an interview with a mortally wounded man, the sole (temporary) survivor of a mass murder on a Stockholm bus. If Ullholm has American relatives, they are certainly cops like Joe Arpaio, patrolling the highways of the American South and Southwest. Read on:

Ullholm was dissatisfied with everything, from his salary grade, which not surprisingly was too low, to the police commissioner, who hadn’t the sense to take strong measures.

He was indignant that children were not taught manners at school and that discipline was too slack within the police force.

He was particularly virulent about three categories of citizens who had never caused Rönn any headaches or worry: foreigners, teenagers and socialists.

Ullholm thought it was a scandal that police patrolmen were allowed to have beards.

“A mustache at the very most,” he said. “But even that is extremely questionable. You see what I mean, don’t you?”

He considered that there had been no law and order in society since the thirties.

He put the greatly increasing crime and brutality down to the fact that the police were not given proper military training and no longer wore sabers.

The introduction of right-hand traffic was a scandalous blunder that had made the situation much worse in a community that was already undisciplined and morally corrupt.

“Furthermore, it increases promiscuity,” he said. “You see what I mean, don’t you?

“Huh,” said Rönn.

“Promiscuity. All these turn-around areas and parking facilities along the main highways. You see what I mean, don’t you?”

He was a man who knew most things and understood everything. Only on one occasion did he consider himself forced to ask Rönn for information. He began by saying, “When you see all this laxiety you long to get back to nature. I’d make for the mountains if it weren’t that the whole of Lapland is lousy with Lapps. You see what I mean, don’t you?”

“I’m married to a Lapp girl,” Rönn said.

Ullholm looked at him with a peculiar mixture of distaste and curiosity. Lowering his voice, he said, “How interesting and extraordinary. Is it true that Lapp women have it crosswise?”

“No,” Rönn replied wearily. “It is not true. It’s just a wrong idea that many people have.”

Rönn wondered why the man hadn’t long ago been transferred to the lost-and-found office.

 From The Laughing Policeman, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (1968)

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