Friday, 10 December 2010
Page Fifty One - Burglar at the Door (Copcast #166)
Back when George was a probationer himself, a lot of things were different. They had personal radios back then but there was only one channel to communicate on and the radios were pretty basic. There were three volume settings, louder, louder and deafening; and the only way th turn the thing off was to drop the battery out of the bottom. If you were with another officer when you stopped someone in the street and you called the Control Room for a name check, it meant that the reply "Are you free to speak?" was an instruction for every one else to remove their batteries and allow you to receive the information in confidence.
In addition to his radio, George used to have a truncheon and a pair of handcuffs on his belt, the truncheon sat in a purpose built pocket down the outer thigh of his uniform trousers. You don't want to upset the public do you? All of his report books along with his pocketbook, were distributed among the pockets of his jacket. These days, when George steps out on foot patrol he looks more like an armoured gadget bag on legs. His body armour has pockets stuffed with books and his belt carries a radio, rigid handcuffs, extendible baton, and pouches filled with first aid kit and search gloves along with yet more report books and pens.
Some things haven't changed over the years, one of those things is the people George deals with. He recently stepped into the Custody Office and came face to face with a local character called Burglar Bill. George found himself going back to the first time he'd met William, getting on for fifteen years earlier.
Probationer George was the radio operator on a response car on a weekday Late Turn when his driver accepted a call to a suspicious male in a back garden. When they arrived there was no sign of anything amiss so the driver posted George at the front door while he trotted round the back to check things out there. George was disappointed because it meant his driver would nab any wrong-doer at the back of the house, no burglar ever used the front door, everyone knew that.
While he stood sulking and idly kicking stones along the path, the front door to the house opened and a middle-aged man in a shirt and tie stood there, clutching a bag in his hand and staring at George.
"Good evening officer, is everything okay?" he asked.
"Yes sir, we're just checking out a call, do you live here?" George replied. He noticed the bag in the mans hand was in fact a pillowcase that seemed to contain a few bulky items. Somewhat suspicious now he planted himself in front of the man and asked "What do you have in the bag sir?"
The man's shoulders slumped and he sighed as he said "Okay, you got me, I was screwing the place, okay?"
George almost stammered as he said "You're under arrest for burglary, you don't have to say anything but anything you do say will be taken down and used in court."
The man smiled slightly and said "It's a fair cop guv', you've got me bang to rights". George gawped in horror at the man, knowing that no one would believe his prisoner had used the legendary words. When he asked the man if he was sure he wanted to say that, the man just smiled and nodded.
Coming back to the present day George smiled and said "Hello Bill, what are you up to now, I haven't seen you in ages?"
William turned and grinned at George, accepting George's outstretched hand and shaking it, "Oh I'm working with youth offenders these days, keeping them honest and on the straight and narrow you know. Someone has to keep them bang to rights don't they?"
Maybe everything does change after all.