Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Page Forty Four - Operator's Duties (Copcast #160)

The Radio Telephone or R/T Car tends to be the flagship on a Borough and the crew of the car are therefore looked upon to provide the lead in pretty much any day to day incidents that don’t need a supervisor. The driver of the R/T Car is also the most highly qualified driver on the Borough having attended and passed the four week Advanced Driving Course including pursuit management. As such, the ‘Driver’ is usually the oldest and most experienced PC on the team.

Obviously this means that it is an honour, no a privilege for a lowly probationary constable to be allowed to act as the Radio Operator on the R/T Car. There is however a price to be paid for such a privilege. The Operator must ensure that the car is cleaned both inside and out, fit to be seen in public.

The Operator must carry out the car’s Daily Inspection, making sure that all the fluids are correctly filled, the wipers work, the warning equipment including blue lights and sirens work, the tyres must be inflated to the correct pressure and have no damage or visible sign of wear. The headlights, sidelights, tail-lights, brake-lights, reversing lights and indicator lights must all be working and bulbs replaced if needs be.

Finally the Operator must ensure that the Driver has a cup of coffee, with milk and one sugar, before he is expected to move the R/T Car from the rear yard of the police station.

One of George’s probationers, John, was posted to the exulted duty of Radio Operator on the R/T Car for a gruelling four weeks and had just about come to grips with all the responsibilities. On his final day however, disaster struck.

He had done all the checks and washed and polished the car to a dazzling shine before trudging wearily upstairs to make his driver’s coffee before sitting obediently and politely listening for about an hour to all the stories about how the job used to be on the old days.

Eventually John and his driver made their way downstairs and climbed into the R/T car, the driver inserted the key into the ignition and turned it. Nothing. He took the key out again and reinserted it and turned it, but there was silence, not even a click of a relay. The driver turned to John and looked at him a moment before asking “When you checked the lights, did you turn them off afterward?”

John was horror-struck, his eyes widened in panic as he leapt out of the car and frantically opened the bonnet to check the engine was still there. It was but it was dead. He immediately called the Control Room on his personal radio asking that they call for a Traffic Unit to see if any jump leads were available. Sadly, due to Health and Safety restrictions, banning the untrained use of jump leads, none were available.

Next he turned to his driver and, almost pleading, said “I’ll push you. You can bump start it, can’t you?”

His driver, now slightly amused by John’s desperation to make the most of his last day’s posting to the R/T Car, was tempted to let him try pushing the car. A tiny shred of decency stopped him and forced him to point out to John that the R/T Car is the only car on the Division’s fleet with an automatic gear box, you can’t bump start it.

Utterly frantic now, John was almost running in circles around the car when he suddenly stopped and cried, “I’ve got it,” before disappearing back into the police station then moments later reappearing in the yard and tearing off through the gate towards the nearby petrol station. A few minutes had passed when John returned with a triumphant grin plastered on his face, in his hands he carried his trophy, a set of jump leads. The young officer was so intent on spending every possible moment in the Big Car that he had bought a set of leads out of his own pocket and was now hooking them to his own car to restart the R/T Car.

When George was later told the story he paused a moment before replying “When was the last time you were so keen to get out there and do your job that you did something like that?”

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Page Forty Three - Not a Disaster Movie (Copcast #158)

The snowy weather may have reduced most of the UK to a post apocalyptic state but the movie 'The Day After Tomorrow' doesn't even come close to reflecting the effects. Who could imagine it, snow ... on a workday? The schools were all closed, milk was turning sour in the farms because the tankers couldn't get through and anyone living more than five miles from their place of work was guaranteed a day off. Except for anyone employed by the emergency services of course. Families still have domestics, shoplifters still try their luck, drug dealers still push their gear to finance the pit bull terrier and a brand new 50" plasma screen TV. It never stops and as a result the police and other emergency services still have to find some way of getting into work.

For George it wasn't too difficult though. Thermal underwear, a beanie hat, two pairs of socks and an iPod got him through an hour's hike to his police station. At the station the Inspector had decided that only emergencies were to be attended to reduce the risk of police officers denting the cars, getting them stuck or, even worse, denting somebody else. Imagine the paperwork. So given that emergencies were being covered by one solitary 4x4 unit, everyone else was told to get walking. They donned their full compliment of wet weather gear and set off for a nine hour shift in blizzard conditions.

Now George didn't mind, it was something different and as long as you are suitably attired the weather isn't a problem. What is a problem is having to drag yourself up a hillside street by using a handy garden fence because the pavement under your feet is slick with ice, then being met at the top by the local scum-a-razzi armed with ice balls and looking for some wooden-top fodder.

George and his colleague put up a brave fight, even though they were ill-prepared, he only lost his beat helmet once, and they managed to beat the kids slowly back towards their own turf. It is entirely possible that this was only because one of the hooligans knew he'd been recognised by George. George laughed like a drain, his sides and face were hurting from so much tomfoolery. His laughter stopped however, when he heard the local CCTV operator having to give the Control Room a commentary of the location details and status updates on the snowball-fueled disturbance in the street, between fits of giggles.

George had to admit it was him on the radio, the CCTV operator had been placed in an awkward position as he knew who George was and could only pretend he didn't recognise him for so long. Upon his return to the police station an hour later George was met with jeers and a round of applause from his team. The governor on the other hand had clearly had a sense of humour bypass. There was a very uncomfortable meeting in the Inspector's office, without coffee, but George's face still ached from the laughing and somehow the effects of the dressing down didn't last as long as the giggles.

Unprofessional? 'Fraid so ... fun? Absolutely!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Page Forty Two - Best Defence (Copcast #157)

In this crazy world where it is perceived that the bad guys get more rights than some victims,George is always at his happiest when he feels he's got 'one over' on a defence solicitor. Like most police officers who interview their own prisoners he views the defence brief as a necessary evil. Given that the UK Criminal Justice System is deemed as one of the fairest in the world and a model that even the US built theirs on, he accepts them for what they are.

How they sleep at night however is beyond his comprehension but then he might guess that someone has to do it or the system wouldn't work. For the most part defence solicitors know how to play the system and are reasonably well behaved. Like everyone George has had a few stroppy ones who have decided that his line of questioning  was inappropriate. He has even had occasions where a solicitor has hijacked the interview, answering questions on behalf of the prisoner. That's no problem though, he just stopped the tapes and ejected the wayward brief from his interview.

Anyway there's a line drawn in the sand as far as George is concerned, a clear one and some of them decide to try and cross it.

Take new years eve. As a result of a routine traffic stop George arrested a disqualified driver for taking a motor vehicle without owners consent or TWOC. Also known as Taking and Driving or TDA to some among you. The prisoner coughed to it at the roadside, and then again at the custody desk. He didn't want a solicitor so George decided on a quick taped interview because he'd admitted his wrong-doing twice already and he could have him charged and released from custody in very short order

Prior to and during interview he was offered the services of a legal representative, which he declined and then he sang like a canary, admitting to both offences while being tape recorded. On the way back to the custody desk with his prisoner George bumped into Jan, a duty solicitor who was there on another job. She recognised George's prisoner, obviously not a good thing for the prisoner, and asked if they had been into interview already. The prisoner replied 'yes' and that he was 'bang to rights' which he was.

At this point the duty brief erupted like a banshee, she shouted at the prisoner and then turned her attention to George, accusing him of tricking her client, being unethical and unprofessional. Of course George reminded her that she was in a police custody office and who she was speaking to. He also pointed out that if she continued to shout in the custody area, causing a disturbance, she would be removed.

Jan wasn't happy with this at all and demanded to speak to the Inspector. Fortunately he was already in custody carrying out prisoner reviews and had heard the entire commotion. He took Jan to one side and reminded her of the process, a prisoner had just as much right to not be advised by her or any other legal representative as they did to get it. Just as the police could not force the prisoner to give up the right to independent legal advice, she could not force him to take it. Her erstwhile client had been offered legal advice on three separate occasions and she should wind her neck in.

Nice one guv, good to have the support of the boss. George went home a happy bobby and looking forward to his next encounter with Jan. 

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