Wednesday, 27 August 2014
The rear yard at George’s police station is not only the parking area for all the police vehicles but is also the entrance to the Custody Offices so the whole place is surrounded by a twenty foot high wall topped with razor wire and only accessible through an electric gate operated from the Control Room. Because of the security, George and his team tend to relax once they reach the yard.
One Night Duty recently saw George driving the van with a new probationer as his operator. They had just collected a young man on behalf of the crew of the dog van after they arrested him for being drunk and possibly having assaulted another man. Having arrived in the rear yard, and realising there was a fairly long queue of prisoners waiting ahead of them, the dog van crew asked George and his operator to watch their prisoner for them while they dealt with some of the initial paperwork.
They also told George that their prisoner seemed to be behaving himself now and that he could be allowed to sit in the rear of the caged van with the door open, with handcuffs still on, to get some air. George raised an eyebrow in surprise but did as he was asked, but he did settle back and lean against the back door of the van to keep watch on the prisoner.
Suddenly the young man dived out of the van past George, jumped onto a car parked by the back wall ran onto its roof then dived headfirst over the wall. George stared dumbly for a second, he had never seen anything like it, before grabbing his radio and calling for all available units to help him find the running man.
George was furious with himself and was relieved to hear that the Air Support Unit was nearby and able to help in the search. It wasn’t too long before they spotted the prisoner’s hiding place on the infra-red cameras and directed the searching units in. The man had found a nice dark goods loading bay to hide in so the dog van deployed their dog to find him. Once cornered the man still refused to co-operate until he was blinded by the CS spray that was used on him. He was led to the railings that everyone had climbed over to reach the loading bay and then realised the gates were locked. During a brief discussion about how they were going to guide the prisoner over the railings, the young man took matters into his own hands. Despite being cuffed and blinded by CS he managed to vault the railings, landing perfectly on his feet at the back of the waiting van.
George shook his head in grudging awe, while the dog van crew struggled to get their dog back over the railings again. George turned to his operator and said “I guess that’s two things to remember, don’t ever underestimate anyone and don’t take security for granted, even at the nick.” He also promised silently to get back down to the gym very, very soon.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
The weekend seems to start on Thursday evening, at least as far as the drinking public is concerned. From Thursday Night Duty through until Sunday Early Turn most uniform patrol officers can expect to be dealing with their fair share of drunken revellers and the problems that go with them.
There is always the usual smattering of fights with the injured joining those that have over-imbibed down at the Casualty Department of local hospital. There will also be a number of rubbish bins thrown through the glass panels of bus shelters and passengers throwing up their kebabs in mini-cabs. Amidst all this carnage at about 2am one Friday morning, George and his operator were driving very slowly through the pedestrian area of the Town Centre Shopping Precinct. They were on a regular tour looking for anyone that may have drunk too much in the local bars and clubs and collapsed, presenting opportunist thieves with an irresistible and unconscious target.
“What’s that?” asked George as his headlights picked up movement on the ground ahead of him. Something very pale was reflecting in the glare of the lights as it bobbed up and down vigorously pretty much in the middle of the pedestrian area. A face suddenly appeared in the lights, then another and it quickly emerged that a young and almost naked woman was sitting astride a young man who was lying flat on his back on the ground directly beneath a CCTV camera mounted on a tall pole.
Flicking the car’s blue lights on for a second so that the couple would know who they were, George stopped the car. He and his operator walked toward the couple who were now standing and struggling to gather their clothes. Taking the position that, as driver, he got the choice of whom he was going to speak to, George beckoned the woman over to him. Clutching the man’s jacket around her in a vain attempt to regain some modesty, she had difficulty suppressing a fit of giggles as she explained herself and gave George her details.
While he checked her identity with the Control Room over the radio, the woman explained that she had just finished work and it had suddenly seemed like a good idea to embark on an intimate romp with her boyfriend in a deserted public place. She also complained that she didn’t see how they were doing any harm.
Before letting the two go on their way, George pointed out the obvious, that the mostly naked young woman would have appeared to be an open invitation to any of the drunken males on their way home, especially those that had failed to pick a partner during the night’s drinking and dancing. He pointed out that he could just as easily have been attending the scene of her gang rape as having simply interrupted the couple and sent them on their way.
About a week later, George’s team met at a local bar after an Early Turn to celebrate the transfer of one of their colleagues. When George’s turn came to buy a round of drinks he asked the barmaid why he recognised her. She blushed a furious shade of red and then George remembered. “I’m really sorry,” he said, “I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on!”
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
It was dark, about 2am and the strobing blue lights were flickering off houses and hedgerows accompanied by the yelp of sirens as George’s Response Car barreled along the road, he was concentrating so intently on his driving that his eyes felt like they were out on stalks. Ahead of him was his colleague Jock in another Response Car but unlike George’s car, this one was letting out a long eerie wail and its headlights were flashing alternately.
They were playing different tunes on their sirens as they ran in formation so that any other road users would have more warning that there were two cars and not one, it is every Response Driver’s nightmare being the follow car and having someone pull out in front of them, not expecting a second vehicle to be there.
Hence George’s intense concentration.
They had both answered a call from the Control Room at around the same time, it was an Emergency or ‘I-Call’ to a woman who was being beaten by her husband. She had managed to lock herself into a bedroom but her husband was trying to break down the door and apparently she had sounded hysterical on the phone. As Jock and George had driven toward the call from different parts of their ground they had converged on the single direct road to the tiny village the call had came from, several miles out into the sparsely populated, rural area of the county with little or no street-lighting.
There was a pair of red tail-lights in the distance and almost nothing else to see apart from a line of traffic islands with a lit bollard on each, to keep traffic travelling in opposite directions from colliding. The road was almost dead straight but it rose and fell in a series of dips as the two Police vehicles gained on the red tail-lights of the other car. The car appeared to be slowing and George saw Jock’s car pull out onto the offside and commit itself to an overtake.
“Oh dear” said George, the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly standing up. He began to brake heavily as he realised that the car wasn’t slowing down enough to allow Jock to regain the nearside before he reached the traffic island. He was either going to have to brake hard and come back in behind the other car or stay offside past the traffic island.
Jock went offside of the bollard, just as a pair of headlights appeared out of the dip ahead of them. Jock’s car hit the oncoming vehicle head on. George fought his own car as he stood on the brakes, and it snaked and weaved to a standstill on smoking tyres, just short of the combined wreckage of two cars mangled into one tangled heap of metal. George’s heart was in his mouth as he and his operator clambered out and ran over to the cars, past glass, metal and wheels lying in the road. “Oh god, no” he kept repeating out loud before remembering to call in the incident on the radio. Then unbelievably Jock and his operator were standing with him, covered in white powder from the airbags, and helping the other driver out of what was left of his car. The car that Jock was trying to overtake never stopped.
Fortunately another unit was able to take the call to the woman being beaten by her husband while the rest of the team helped clear up the mess of Jock’s collision. The young lad innocently driving the car that Jock crashed into was admirably compensated with a replacement. Jock meantime became one of the loudest supporters of the message that it is far better to arrive safely a few seconds later than to not arrive at all. You’re no use to anyone if your incapacitated or dead.
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
It cannot be denied that there are some people that find police officers in their uniforms a powerfully appealing image to behold. It is also true that there are some officers who are so enamoured of how well they look in all their kit that they walk around like fashion models on a catwalk.
In his role as tutor constable, George has become used to many students coming onto the unit fully equipped with new gadgets and kit that they have paid for out of their own pocket. Admittedly some of it is useful, like a decent torch or fixed penalty ticket folder, but some of it is not so useful like a key holder that stops your keys from jangling or a PAC tag clip that also doubles as an effective ligature if you get into a rumble. The job provides new recruits with enough kit to start them off, all of it at the most economical price. Things like handcuff holders where the seams split and baton holders that lose your ASP in a foot chase. In short the job knows it will need to replace these items on a regular basis, because police officers will break them.
George will confess to having a number of items bought & paid for by him, including an adjustable cuff holder (for a leftie), a leather MAT belt and a decent adjustable baton holder. He is also the proud owner of a Garrity LED torch that he purchased in Walmart three years ago for $5.00 (including tax) whilst on vacation in Florida. It is still going strong and it sits nicely in a job issue baton holder. In addition to all this he owns a TAC vest to carry it all and has his POLSA 'Gucci' kit safely stored in his locker. All of George’s kit is engraved with his collar number as, hard to believe though it may be, there are some light fingered individuals out there who seem to think that re-assigning someone else’s kit is 'fair game' if it isn’t nailed down. George himself feels that they should have their fingers cut off, he bought his kit for practical reasons, it lasts and he relies on it.
Whenever a new bunch of students arrive on the Training Unit the Sergeant ceremoniously strips them of their newly bought kit, when and only when they are released onto shift they allowed to wear their non-job issue stuff and then only with their new Sergeant’s approval. One new student however recently took exception to this, declaring that he would use both his two new torches as the job ones were, in his words, 'sh***'. George shrugged and said “Okay Jason, whatever”.
One of Jason’s new torches was an LED light that clipped onto his stab vest. It was very good at its job, Jason could write tickets in the dark (as opposed to writing them out in a dry, warm police car) and made him look a bit like Robocop. George quietly wondered how long it would stay attached to Jason’s stab vest though. He didn't have to wait long to find out, a few days later they attended an officer assistance call, two officers were struggling with a drunken male whilst his mates were trying to set him free. Jason jumped into the fray, pushing them back and giving them warnings to move on. One lad had to be pushed more than the others and the officers all ended up piling on top of him leading to a short scuffle. The drunken lads were nicked for drunk & disorderly, the van arrived and both were taken away.
George checked on Jason and pointed out that only the back of his LED torch was still attached to his stab vest. A look of horror fell across his face and he started to look frantically for the rest of it in the dark. He produced his other equally expensive LED torch that apparently harnessed the power of seven suns, to aid his search for the first LED light, only to find it had a cracked case and refused to work.
George lent him his. Jason found the missing light under a bench some 20 feet away, the lens destroyed and the clip cracked; apparently it had been trodden on during the scuffle. With some angst Jason threw George’s $5.00 (including tax) torch back at him and his vest torch in the nearest bin. Teddy and pram parted company in spectacular style as the former was tossed in a far corner with extreme prejudice. Of course Jason’s experience is one George now shares with all new students and happily unlike him, most of them get the message.