That's one of the really great things about travel - it lets you see home with new eyes. And one of the first things I noticed when we came to Oz was how few police there seemed to be. For all the jokes you can make about Australians' convict ancestors, the contemporary nation appears very lightly policed to American eyes.
When you're spending time in a new place, things that are different appear odd. Home is your reference for what is normal. So it seemed odd to see so few coppers out and about in Australian towns.
But we've been in Australia long enough (four months on this visit, and nearly two years on our last) that a lightly-policed society is starting to feel pretty normal. And that got me thinking about why you see so many police in America.
And the answer, of course, is simple - American society locks up an abnormally high proportion of its citizens. A higher proportion than any other nation, in fact, and five and a half times the rate of incarceration in Oz. So, to get all those people in prison, I suppose you have to hire a lot of police to do the arresting.
How few police are around in a more "normal" Western city like Hobart? Well, I actually remember the last cop car I saw out on the street, because it startled me a bit. And that was ten days ago. I'm going to run a traveller's experiment and see how many more days it takes me until I see the next.
Hobart from on high. (Although we weren't actually up there to look for the police.)