Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Page Twenty - The FM Button (Copcast #135)

In the UK, police personal radios have a little orange button. It sits on top far, far away from the working end of the radio, the keypad. The purpose of this button is to get help pronto, on blues and twos from wherever and whomever possible. Hold the button down for a few seconds and everyone in your division is alerted to your peril by a loud intermittent bleeping noise that cuts in over all transmissions.

Everyone can hear you, whether its screams of fear or shouts of ‘Get back!’, normally followed by various expletives. In training you are taught to shout ‘location location location’ but no-one ever does. In essence this is the modern day equivalent of the police whistle and is, fortunately, rarely used. Most of the time they are accidental activations; normally CID officers leaning on it whilst stretching for their coffee cup or over zealous PCSO’s who are following someone ‘of interest’.

The noise from the activation immediately grabs your attention and there is usually a slight pause before the officer calls up to say sorry for leaning on it. George has happily been to precious few real activations, probably only about ten in his entire career, although as you may remember he has had cause to use the little orange button himself.

Not everybody is entirely comfortable with the whole ‘FM’ button thing, recently for example George was in the station half monitoring radio traffic, half trying to complete a court file. He was with his skipper talking about almost anything but work when all of a sudden they heard the words “10-9 officer assistance”. It was spoken fairly quietly, the officer a little out of breath but sounding calm and no orange button activation. The radio traffic fell silent as dozens of police officers listened intently. Was this a joke, had they misheard the transmission? No, ‘10-9’ is what hey used before they had the new radios and you had to literally shout to get assistance and not rely on technology. The caller was a dog unit and he was in trouble.

George and the skipper stared at each other for a micro second then bolted towards the door where they saw a great sight, at least half a dozen response cars with lights activated all scrambling to get out of the rear yard. They jumped in a station van at the rear of the convoy and headed towards the last known location of the dog unit and arrived within a few minutes to find a house completely surrounded by at least twenty police officers. George went to the front of the house for no reason other than that the back garden was full of coppers and he felt like a spare part. He saw a man trying to fight about five officers in the hallway.

He lost and was dragged out, handcuffed and limb strapped. He certainly wasn’t very happy, there was a lot of confusion and an awful lot of blood. George took an arm and helped place the struggling prisoner into his waiting caged van destined for the hospital.

It became clear that the dog handler had stopped this chap following reports of a domestic incident at the address. As the dog handler started to check him out, the suspect made off on foot and the officer gave chase but lost him in some foliage around the corner. The suspect then jumped on the police officer from the foliage and started to pummel him to make good his escape. The dog handler used the only thing he had in his reach to defend himself, his ASP Baton and used the handle of the baton to strike the suspect over the head several times causing a three inch cut on top of his head. Hence all the blood.

The suspect then ran off, that’s when the dog handler called for assistance and the world and his brother turned out for him which must have been very reassuring.

With the suspect safely restrained everyone returned to the police station as the suspect was at hospital getting treatment for the head injury with three of the biggest, meanest officers to guard him.

A while later there was another call for assistance and George drove the van back to the hospital where he found the prisoner had decided he hadn't had enough fighting for one day and started to play up whilst being sutured. He had to be further restrained by the officers at scene during which the head wound was inadvertently reopened. More blood.

Thankfully the dog handler had only received minor injuries, his stab vest taking the brunt of the punches. If he'd deployed his dog things might have been very different but, as so often happens in this job, events happened so quickly he never had a chance to. Afterwards he openly admitted to forgetting his radio even had the orange ‘FM’ button but fortunately he had the presence of mind to say where he was immediately prior to the assault. A valuable lesson learned that day for everybody.

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