The survival of the fitness

I’m no station sergeant tapping away on a typewriter that not only makes enough noise to reverberate through the nick or heavy enough to require a solidly built oak desk as desks were the. built in those days. 

No, I am fast approaching 50 with 20 years in. Yes I joined relatively late but I was too busy enjoying my previous career to consider giving it all up in the early days. Just as well to be honest, as for me at least, had I not had that life changing, globe trotting experience I would not be the man I am today or indeed the police officer  I ultimately became to be. Everyone has the right time but the right time is not for everyone. 

So here I am on the raggity edge of modern policing. I’ve gone from teleprinters, as a probationer printing off the MSSL on desk duty at St Annes on a 9 – 7 day filing the reams of paper into a folder that nobody read to windows based technical and emotional support. 

Conversely I also remember kerbing the wheel of the local panda, having to circulate a message to MSSL with exotic destinations such as x63 , pnc and other numerical address’s that made no sense at all before having a meeting with the headmaster with no coffee provided! These days you have to write off a car before you are in the headmasters study.

So what is the point of all this? Well I am getting older and those that I work with are getting younger. Well obviously not physically but that is my point of view! And as I get older I wonder if my view point holds any sway. Indeed as I get older do I have any relevance not only only within society as a whole but more importantly for me, my colleagues that I work with. That is what worries me! Breaking it down to the baseline, am I viewed as an old fart that is past his sell by date and ergo knows nothing?

Well not yet! I work on the operations department, road policing to be exact and can still mix it up in pursuits and whilst not the very fitess on the department I can still sprint in full body armour. 

And younger officers still bend our traffic ears for advice, we like that. So what is my problem?

For me there are two problems. A generational gap between colleagues and also supervision and vice versa and secondly the dismantling of team and spirit as a result of technology where the office has been removed from the station, the only home that bobbies knew and replaced with tablets, refs in the car and log updates from their PDA’s. Isolated by Windows yet never having time to look out of them. 

Taking the generational gap first. Officers a generation apart sharing the same rank working together on modern teams. That can cause issues within the team. Not so much of an issue work wise for indeed younger officers will look to the older officers for advice, especially on the street where experience is king. But younger officers will head start generally on new policy and procedures and especially in the office leaving older officers feeling “out of it.” Both sides left feeling that the other is useful as an necessity. 

Then there are supervisors who are older with a young team and conversely a newly promoted supervisor with old sweats. These situations need to be managed with empathy from both sides.

The second problem is technology. Technology is great isn’t it? Uber fast and efficient. It is the way forward our human race will develop without a doubt. 

Now I am not going to go on about new systems that we cannot yet understand due to lack of experience. If you expect me to do so then you have missed the point. My point is that our office has become electronic and as such isolationist. Great that we spend more time on the street. 

But my worry is that we spend just as much office time whilst on the street and isolated from our colleagues; our only link between ourselves is a radio channel and an email address. Only seeing each other at the start and to a lesser the end of tour.

The future does not support well being. Unless those officers in the future areautomatons,  technology will always have to make allowance for emotion.


About Walk the Talk

I have been a Police Officer for 20 years. It’s fair to say I have just about seen it all. I have spent my service working major town centres on response seeing all that life can throw at a human being. But, for the last eight years I have been on the road policing unit in its various guises. It is on this unit that I have seen life transpire to deal its cruelest hand. Both as an investigating officer and a family liaison officer, I have witnessed tragedy that at times I am at a loss to understand and at worse comprehend. Wholly committed to saving lives, this is the role of the road policing officer. As I have gotten older and realising that my emotional sponge is saturated I have looked and taken a very real interest in personal wellbeing and how WE can make our life experience better what ever we do. Taking the media of blogging a stage further I now produce podcasts on that topic. Join me if you would on an evolving journey that no doubt will produce a few surprises along the way.
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3 Responses to The survival of the fitness

  1. Nice post. I started policing at 30 and have just retired. I recognise the issues you raise.

    I was once a new acting Sgt with a team of old sweats and I have been the old bloke in the office!

    The problem is neatly put: as a PC or a Sgt. I had time with the team. We worked and laughed together. More recently the team was less compact and spread more widely. Even on public order jobs the change has been immense.

    In the old days teams used to spend the waiting hours on bonding (my sides used to ache with laughter) now the van is quiet as folks do emails and play phone games.

    Weird eh?

    It will take a lot of leadership to manage the issues in your blog.

    Good luck

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