British police car in its high-visibility "checkered livery." And it's not just loud on the eyes.

British police car in its high-visibility “checkered livery.” And it’s not just loud on the eyes.

How do you fix a crisis in policing?

(If your first response was to scratch your head and mutter “Crisis in policing?” then I offer a few terms to Google: Ferguson, school-to-prison pipeline, chokehold, Rahm Emanuel. That should get you started.)

Maybe the answer is to get people engaged in policing’s nuts and bolts. For example, amidst all the coverage and scrutiny of large police departments (and even smaller ones), rarely addressed in the debate is the question that has gripped U.K. schoolkids:

What do police sirens really sound like?

On this Change of Venue Friday, I offer a news story in which English police officers blared their car sirens to allow schoolkids to answer the difficult question: Do they sound like “nee-nah” or “woo-woo”? If you’ve watched any British movies, you may have wondered yourself what the hell is up.

This article—and the schoolkids—try to answer your question. It involves loud sirens, student voting, and a tongue-in-cheek apology by the police. All of this, I’m guessing, was mentioned somewhere in Magna Carta.

Police demonstrate their car and its multiple siren sounds to British schoolkids.

Police demonstrate their car and its multiple siren sounds to British schoolkids.

The hilarious musings by the school’s headmistress will have you thinking a British education doesn’t sound so bad.

“The school’s headmistress had ‘officially put it out there’ that it was actually a wah-wah. But following a vote at the school earlier, it was announced that ‘woo-woo’ was the winner by 60 votes to 28.

“Ms. Muckleston said the result was surprising as the children had been ‘leaning more towards the nee-nah’.”

“‘Nee-nah is a bit of a classic but when it came to it they decided woo-woo was the way to go,’ she said. ‘I would say it’s probably a surprise—although I think it’s more of a wah-wah myself.’”

That Ms. Muckleston is a saucy one!

And, as the Daily Mail explained the whole why-are-British-sirens-so-weird issue:

“There are at least six different types of siren used in the UK and most vehicles are able to sound them in different tones. According to one police training document, a longer tone should be used when the driver can see further and a shorter one in built-up areas.”

Color us colonists confused.

Have a terrific—and a woo-woo—weekend.

My kingdom for an earplug: Polling closed, young Britons stand beneath their selected siren sounds.

My kingdom for an earplug: Polling closed, young Britons stand beneath their selected siren sounds.