What about "entrails"? That's plural, but can we count "entrails"? I don't think so.
entrails: Definition from Answers.com
So from the previous commentary and information posted, we can see that "police" is a rather unique noun. People perceive "police" as an uncountable noun even though it is plural. So let's welcome the noun "police" to the uncountable noun club.
- The mud is all over the floor.
- The copy paper is running low. Let's buy some more.
- The fog is thick tonight.
- The butter is in the refrigerator.
- The equipment is on the truck.
- The police are on all the highways tonight.
- Good wood is expensive.
- The ice is melting.
- The tea is in the cabinet.
- The coffee is next to the donuts.
- Speech is revealing.
- The blob is seeping through the door.
If someone was to say "the police are outside" police would seem plural. It would be possible to reply "how many police are there" which seems to me to refer to the police as a group of singular police. I am not so sure the reply would have to be "how many policemen" are there. "How many police" sounds fine to me.
Why does "police" seem to be such a unique exception in English grammar?
What about people: the French people are great lovers of wine.
Run! The police are coming.
mmmm ... weird.
How many people are there?
There are three people (One people of course is ugh!)
How many police are there? UGH
Surely it must be: how many police officers are there?
Damn! I never thought of entrails. Entrails is another messy plural non-countable like police but NOT people.
Adding to the confusion police is also a verb and an adjective. For example the sentence
Police police police police police police.
is proper grammar, and an appropriate answer to a question like "If police police the common people and police police police the police, who polices the police police?"