I looked at this story this morning and knew it was significant - police officers are hardly ever jailed for anything, including manslaughter. Twelve months for letting-off a burglar is ... significant. But I couldn't quite put it together this morning. It came to me on the way home this evening.
When officers start shooting their men to encourage obedience, you know they're in desperate trouble. When rank and file police officers see their endemically corrupt seniors get away with gross peculation of public funds, taking lavish bungs from dodgy enterprises, rewarding themselves with bonuses that equal a constable's annual salary, consorting openly with known criminals and stumbling from one silver-braided circle jerk to another, what do you imagine happens to their commitment to risk themselves to protect the public? Senior officers are aware that they've alienated themselves from ordinary plods. So they're seeking to secure by fear the obedience they can't achieve by leadership.
Likewise the draconian prison sentences that have crammed the jails with those guilty of the pettiest and most minor of thefts. It's fear. They're afraid. This isn't a regime secure in power and flexing its muscles; it's St Petersburg in 1917, it's Paris in 1789. In those places, the troops signaled the change by deserting; today, police officers are going off sick as though there's an epidemic about. I'll bet when the next Met sickness figures are out at least 20% of officers are now just sitting at home. Waiting.
So police bosses will use threats, bullying, intimidation and the making of examples to try to maintain discipline, but the more they try, the more they detach themselves from the rank and file plods who see their seniors' avarice and sense of entitlement for what it is.