Recent events have transpired that has prompted me to write this blog. Something I feel very strongly about.
In my unit, in the downstairs reception area is a space of wall that is directly adjacent to the entrance door. You cannot hope to miss it. On the wall are four plagues dedicated to police officers that fell in the line of duty on the unit I am very proud to be a member of.
Police officers yes, fine officers but also our brothers and sisters. For we are a family and a close knit one at that.
Many years ago I used to be a tutor constable. Within a few days I usually knew whether the probationer constable would make the grade. It wasn’t because of a lack of aptitude but rather that indefinable quality that you cant quite put your finger on. Whatever the incident, my probationer and myself attended, I always considered two constant threads that ran through every job. There is no one else that does what we do. There is no one else to help us other than ourselves. I rammed that constantly into the minds of my probationers. Most got it, some didn’t.
Before I joined my current unit I was a divisional traffic officer. We shared the office with our support unit colleagues. I always felt a certain bond with their units. Like traffic, they were something of a mystery to the rest of the section but a sunrise to officers at a scene when they were desperately needed. We often addressed each other as brother or sister. For we were more than colleague’s. We each knew that some day we might have to entrust our own lives to each other.
Thankfully, the death of a British Police Officer is still a rare occurrence compared to other countries. The incidents of minor and serious injury less so. It is so easy to become complacent in our role, assume compliance with offenders we deal with but it is important to remember it’s the punch you don’t see that gets you. God forbid an officer loses his or her life because there wasn’t enough of us to help.
In the current climate of budget cuts, vilification in the national press and the constant barrage of dealing with offenders that have no respect for what we do, it is easy to become down hearted, dispirited and at times wonder why we do what we do and at worse perhaps even fall out with ourselves.
I honestly believe though this could be our finest hour. For like good men and women we are truly at our best when things are at there worst.
I am so proud to be able to do what I do. If it were for the money I would have stayed being a professional photographer earning twice as much as what I do now.
On your next briefing, take a moment to look amongst yourselves. Consider your friendships, your camaraderie, your banter and sense of humour.
But also take a sober reflection and remember you are truly brother and sisters. You are your brother’s keeper. The worst radio transmissions are that of a colleague’s screaming for help. We don’t need any more plagues on the wall.
Perhaps Rudyard Kipling summed it up best for me when he said this:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!