Wednesday, 30 July 2014
"Unit to deal please, suspects on, 14 Richmond street".
Suspects on. Those two words in a radio message, guaranteed to make all police officers ears twitch. The thrill of the chase, you can't beat it. George called up “Mike14, show me en-route, ETA three minutes". He flicked the blues on and floored the accelerator pedal. The Ford Focus diesel clattered into life, the two tones wailing at the rush hour traffic. His probationer held onto the FM handle, a look of fear and a mad grin spreading across his face, his first blue light run, hopefully memorable for all the right reasons.
The traffic parted in front of them and they had a clear path, in his mirror George could see two other units behind them in the distance, neither were response drivers and they were doing their best to make way through the traffic. He could also hear a dog unit call up, offering their services and realised they were after his quarry, but he was absolutely determined that no one was going to get to his prey before him. They arrived on scene in just under the three minutes, the dog unit arrived immediately after. The informant was clearly upset. "I arrived home and I noticed my kitchen door was open, I think I saw someone run out of the back. My laptop was dropped on the back step".
The dog unit was deployed and quickly picked up a scent. Just behind the burgled house was a row of three partly built houses and the dog was now very excited, barking and circling around close to one of them.
"Police dog! Come out or the dog comes in!" shouted the dog handler, there was no reply from inside the unfinished building. The dog unit went in and came back out five minutes later, "No trace on the ground floor, I can't get the dog up to the first floor because the staircase isn’t finished". George went in and could see that the loft hatch was hanging down. They then had a brief discussion about deploying the dog by shoving it up the unfinished stairs, "Not a chance, too risky, the dog could get hurt" said the dog handler.
George and his probationer, who was now dragging a Dragon Lamp a Public Order shield and a NATO helmet behind him, climbed up to the next floor and then heard a noise from the loft. By now other units had arrived and one of them came back with a stepladder. Being the biggest and most experienced everyone decided George was going up first. If Billy burglar was up there, the sight of him dressed up as Darth Vader with baton, NATO helmet and shield might make him think twice about playing up.
Again they called "Police dog! Come out or the dog comes up!" Still no response so George squeezed through the hatch and gingerly searched the loft with the Dragon Lamp. Nothing. He shouted again, this time he saw the loft insulation twitch in a corner. George crept over toward where he saw the movement feeling rather like Elmer Fudd, the words “Stay vewy vewy qwiet” going over and over in his head he went. He heard his probationer struggling through the loft hatch, following behind him. He gave the insulation a prod with his baton and felt something hard. A firmer prod and something squealed. Got him, “dat sqwewy wabbid” in the form of 'Billy Burglar' was unceremoniously hauled up by his tee shirt. No older than 15 years, covered in dust and fiber from the loft insulation he was directed to the loft hatch where he was arrested by George for burglary before anybody else could say the magic words.
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
It was a Sunday Early Turn and George was looking forward to taking things easy, after all nothing ever happens on a Sunday morning does it? Even better since there were more than enough drivers on duty that day he had been posted as the operator on the RT Car as a treat. The RT Car is the pursuit car on the Division and its name refers to the days when the police in the UK were just beginning to embrace the new fangled communication technology, RT stands for Radio Telephone.
So George was sitting back and relaxing while his driver Donald steered the Radio Telephone Car out of the back yard of the police station and made their way onto the High Street. No sooner had they turned on to the main road than they found themselves staring at the back of a queue of traffic held up for roadworks.
George grinned as he slouched even further down in his seat, realising the day was getting easier by the minute, not only was there little to do but they wouldn't be getting anywhere quickly to do it either. There was little to see other than the small van in front of them.
There were a few pedestrians around and although there was a hold up the traffic was still quite light, it was Sunday after all. George watched as a young woman stepped off the kerb on their nearside and walked in front of the staionary police car on her way across the road. Suddenly he caught a flicker of movement ahead and everything seemed to slow down, a car on the other side of the road was speeding very rapidly toward them. The woman hadn't noticed the car and the car driver obviously hadn't seen the woman.
George shouted at the top of his lungs in slow motion for the woman to stop, already knowing it was too late and that nothing he could do would stop what was about to happen. He watched in horrified fascination as the woman stepped in front of the speeding car, he heard the shrill squeal of tyres skidding and saw the smoke boil off them as the driver finally saw the pedestrian and struggled to avoid hitting her.
It was no use. Even as George and Donald threw open their doors and bundled out of the car, the woman was struck by the other car, her body was thrown ten feet into the air and the car passed directly under her before smashing into a series of cast iron bollards in the roadside. The woman's body was flung another ten feet along the road before it landed in a tangled heap near the gutter.
Everything returned to normal speed as George and Donald reached the woman and were astonished to find she was unconcious and still breathing. The scene was cordoned, help arrived, the air ambulance flew the woman into a hospital in the City Centre for Intensive Care and slowly the story emerged. Apparently the young man driving of the now mangled sports car had been trying to change channels on the radio and hadn't even been looking at the road as he sped through the High Street.
The most remarkable thing about the entire incident didn't happen until days later. The woman who had looked like such a terrible mangled mess after being hit by a speeding car and thrown so far through the air, remained in a coma for over a week. After about ten days she regained conciousness and apart from a loss of memory covering the entire accident she only had a couple of minor fractures and a few bruises. She made a full recovery.
George remembers the incident because it was one of those occasions when he was completely helpless and unable to control a situation. As a police officer he has grown very much accustomed to being in charge of a situation at any given time and having things happen the way he wants them to. This was one of those times when neither he nor anyone else could do anything but accept the role of spectator and sit back and watch until events had taken their course.
This is an experience that George will be glad never to have to repeat.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
A call was despatched from the control room, the caller stating that her son, who was drunk, violent and refusing to leave, had assaulted her. Mike 2 the RT Car and Mike 21 the Response Car accepted the call. Mike 21 was crewed by George and his enthusiastic young probationer Sam and neither of them wanted to be beaten to the call by the Radio Telephone Car.
George and Sam arrived first, almost running to the door to ring the bell, “I’ve been here before,” George said. A short while later a very drunk female answered the door with a large Alsatian dog.
“Hello love, can we come in?” asked George, “and can you put the dog away somewhere?”
“Dunt wurrry aaabout herrr,” replied the female in a spectacularly slurred voice, “sheees a pussy cat.”
“She looks like a dog to me love,” said George. The crew of Mike 2 had also arrived by now and everyone entered the flat, the dog was put in the front room whilst the female stated that her son had beaten her up, fallen asleep in her bed and then wet it, nice!
The woman eventually admitted she wasn't hurt and that her son hadn't attacked her but she still wanted him out of there. She was then persuaded to go in the front room with the Alsatian. The police officers went into the bedroom and found a rather large, snoring male, who was apparently as drunk as a skunk, in the woman's bed just as she had said and indeed it stank of fresh urine. They gallantly tried to rouse him but he was out cold so Sam, donning rubber gloves, pinched his ear lobe hard, trying to get a response.
“Eff off” grunted the male.
“Don’t say that to me” growled Sam, pinching him again, harder.
“Eff off!” shouted the male.
“I’ll whoop your ass in a minute” said Sam. Then after another pinch the male rolled over and saw the petite female officer leaning over him.
“Oh, shoarry offfeeshur” said the male. He then sat up and by this time it was established that he lived at another address just up the road, so he was asked politely to get dressed and he’d be escorted to his flat. As he was wandering aimlessly about the room Sam faced him and said “Okay mate lets go.”
“I yam looking fer my hearin’ ayyds,” slurrred the male turning around.
Noticing them on the bedside table Sam pointed at them saying “There over there mate.” The male ignored her walking away.
“Oi, mate there over there” shouted Sam pointing franticly. Sam then remembered that the man was deaf and couldn’t hear her and was also suffering badly from the effects of the Toilet Duck that he’d probably been drinking. George said that he’d let the woman know what was going on. As he entered the living room, without announcing himself, the woman let loose an incredibly loud scream. Turning to the the woman's son Sam the probationer said “Don’t worry mate, he has that effect on all women.”
The crew of the Mike 2 took this opportunity to look at each other and turn toward the door, beating a hasty retreat to allow George and Sam to clear up yet another family dispute in minutes that had probably taken years to develop.
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
Welcome to this special edition of George’s Pocketbook, where our colleagues around the world take time to share their experiences of what being a Law Enforcement Officer means to them, where they work. The incidents portrayed are real but where necessary, names and places have been changed in order to protect the innocent, the not so innocent and the plain stupid.
Sergeant TC has a war story to tell that others may enjoy, I have my doubts however about the individual at the centre this story and suspect that the good Sergeant may be being a little modest about how deeply he is involved. Oh and Sarge, I know I should apologise for the theme song I gave you but I'm afraid I just couldn't resist.
Where Sergeant TC used to work as a despatcher they had a city councilman who was reputed to be, among other things, a drunk and he somehow always seemed to get on the police radio to report things as he was going home. He would report the most mundane things like a traffic light not working etc. All the councilman in that city had police radios in their cars and this particular councilman was given the callsign "Car Ocean 11" to use on the air.
He became a real pain for the dispatchers but like with many other things they just put up with him. As time went by however an anonymous cop on the radio began to pretend he was the councilman and get on the radio sounding like a drunk for fun. This was before the times that your radio ID could be identified.
The anonymous cop, sounding drunk would say things like, "Ocean 11", wait a few seconds and then say, "Oh never mind" (sounding rather intoxicated). The other officers would all get a laugh out of it.
One night our anonymous cop got on the air and said, "Ocean 11" and dispatch answered. A few seconds went by and he said, "Ocean 11 ah ... if youuu get aaaa ... callllll on aaa man down at 13th and Broadway ..." then there was silence for a few seconds. The dispatcher called over and over "Ocean 11, Ocean 11", with no answer. Then the prankster cop came back on the air and said, "Ooocean 11 ah ... neverrrr mind... I got up"
One cold winter night with almost no traffic on the radio the same cop came on the air and just said, "I'm going crazzzzyyyy!" The dispatcher answered back, "Car calling? Car calling?" There was silence for several minutes and then a repeat on the radio, "I'm going Craaaaazzzy!" and dispatcher answered again, "Car calling? Car calling? " with once again no answer.
After about the fourth time he yet again said "I'm going crazzzzyyyy!" and the dispatcher, sounding very mad, asked again, in a mean tone, "Car Calling identify yourself!" A few more seconds went by and the cop come back on the air and said "I'm not THAT crazy!"
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Years ago a lot of effort was put into teaching new police officers a variety of holds, grabs and takedowns. Some of these holds were so complex that a degree in human anatomy was required to implement them, as was a fair degree of luck when trying to apply them to your quarry. George still remembers those late nights in the gym at Training School, practising an array of thumb-locks, arm holds and handcuff takedowns prior to the practical assessments the next day.
There is no doubt that some of these skills have proved to be effective during his service but he still has to suppress a grin when he sees two or three bobbies piled on top of a struggling prisoner. He’s not laughing at them, it's just that the reality of restraining someone is to get them on the floor at the earliest opportunity and to keep the sharp bitey bits from your soft fleshy parts and he’s never a textbook thumb lock.
The most effective way to implement this is to execute a front or rear leg sweep followed by the ‘Kung Fu Panda’ static restraint method otherwise described as sitting on the suspect. Once this method of restraint has been applied, the prisoner can be handcuffed, limb strapped and will be firmly under no illusion that he had been detained. There is little room for complex thumb locks in this real world, so much so that someone at the Training School has finally realised this and most of those holds are no longer taught.
Recently George was on duty with a probationer, Sam was a mere slip of a girl and just 19 years old but loved to get ‘stuck in’. It was late evening and they were called to a disturbance in the street. Reports were coming in of a male trying to attack vehicles with a tree branch in the middle of the road.
Sure enough upon arrival they saw a number of cars trying to turn around and a man screaming at the top of his voice. "I want to ascend" he was shouting, along with threats to kill himself. George and Sam ran over to the man who had fortunately discarded his hefty tree branch by leaving it on the roof of a stationary vehicle, it's driver clearly intent on not getting out.
George grabbed hold of the man by his collar and started to drag him to the side of the road, as there were far too many moving vehicles in it for his liking. Reasoning with him was not an option.
His probationer was trying to force the man’s right arm up his back to gain control, but this wasn't working. They eventually dragged him to side of the police car where George forced him against the boot. He was shouting at him to calm down, but the man responded by throwing a punch George’s way, which he successfully dodged.
With size and sanity on his side George executed a text-book-perfect front leg sweep taking the violent and disturbed man to the floor. He struggled and kept shouting to be let go, so that he could 'ascend' to a higher place. The only place to go in George’s mind was a cell or a Secure Psychiatric Assessment Unit.
The man continued to struggle then tried spit at Sam. The only way to deal with this guy was to get his face closer to the pavement, which meant George having to place his full body weight on the thrashing prisoner whilst holding him in a half nelson. This gave his probationer an opportunity to secure him in limb restraints. A few minutes later the male, successfully subdued and restrained, was helped into the rear of a caged van that took him to hospital having been detained under the Mental Health Act.
The whole incident had only lasted a few minutes but both George and his probationer were exhausted. It just goes to show that when it all kicks off the rules and ju-jitsu type nose holds go out the window.