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. 

'Right Click' and 'Save as' to download the audio version

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Page Forty One - I Know Kung Fu (Copcast #156)

It was a cold sunny day in town; George and his probationer were in the middle of a routine vehicle stop-check when a report of a road rage incident, involving threats and a weapon of some description, came in from not far away from their position. A female driver had been threatened with what appeared to be a baseball bat, or large stick, by another road user following a verbal argument over parking.

The local CCTV operators had been alerted and were scanning the town for the offending vehicle. After a few minutes a vehicle matching the description was spotted queuing to get into a town centre car park. George called up, allocating his call sign to the incident, as did a number of other units. Then CCTV called up on the radio "Control, the vehicle has one male occupant. We can see into the vehicle and can see what looks like a long stick on the back seat".

George asked the Control Room for clarification. He was told again that apparently it was some kind of stick. He was then informed that given the lack of information and no positive sighting of a bladed weapon, Armed Response Vehicles or ARV's would not be attending the incident. This was the Control Room Inspector's assessment from 30 miles away in a nice toasty office. Thanks for that, thought George.

"Received Control, We’ll just have to see what we’ve got when we get there then." Thirty seconds later and they we were calling up to be shown on scene as another unit pulled in next to the suspect vehicle. George approached the driver’s door and something about the cold expression of the man behind the wheel, along with the information in the call, had his instincts jumping. He drew his CS spray and pointing it at the driver through the open window he instructed him turn off the vehicle. The driver glared at George, then at the three other police officers with him. Without saying a word he turned off the engine and got out. He leaned towards George who stepped back and held the CS up toward his face. Under his breath the man muttered "I know Kung Fu, me." This made George step back another pace, while thinking 'What? Who is this guy? Does he think he’s Neo from the Matrix?'

Trying to hold his nerve George replied "Well, jolly good for you sir, but you’d better be pretty good. You see, me and my three mates here have all got batons and CS spray and we’re more than willing to use them to protect ourselves, if you fancy a go." The man simply looked at George then smiled.

One of the other officers chanced a quick look into the back of the car and blanched as he told the others that he could see what appeared to be a samurai sword and nun-chucks. The smiling man was subsequently arrested for possession of offensive weapons and a public order offence. He remained quiet and was carefully handcuffed and very closely watched by the arresting officers. In custody he refused to give his name or answer the questions posed by the custody sergeant. He was strip searched and placed in cell for safety. He never protested once.

Whilst booking the weapons into property George’s curiosity got the better of him. He decided to see if the sword was real and not imitation, like many are. It cut through a sheet of heavy paper like a hot knife through butter.  Makes you thankful for stab vests and gut feelings doesn't it?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Page Forty - Dipped Copper (Copcast #155)

It was mid-December when George’s team celebrated Christmas together by gathering at a pub before going on to a restaurant. They chose one of the small rural towns on the edge of their constabulary where there was a pleasant little inn only two or three doors away from the local police station.

The mood of the team was extremely buoyant, not only were they celebrating the beginning of the festive season and looking forward to all the excesses and fun of Christmas with their families, but also a recent successful operation. As the result of hours of scanning CCTV recordings, surveillance operations, statement taking and an enormous amount of written work, the team had managed to arrest, charge and convict a prolific local pickpocket. The sentence had been announced that day and the dipper had begun a custodial term that would see him behind bars through Christmas and well into the New Year.

Everyone was in high spirits and congratulating themselves on their eagle-eyed detective prowess and boasting about their highly developed policing skills, when their Duty Officer, Inspector Brigstock, joined them. Mr Brigstock was keen to show off his latest acquisition that he told everyone was an early Christmas to himself, a brand new iPhone which at that time had finally just been released in the UK. Having spent several minutes guiding his audience through the myriad of functions available on the device while being at great pains to prove to the assembled team that he wasn’t the technological dullard that many had accused him of being in the past.

Following the demonstration the drinking began in earnest then on to the meal where the gathering continued to revel in their recent success. Some of George’s colleagues went so far as to suggest that any thieves around the Kenton area would think twice before daring to pick anyone’s pockets while the top team were on the plot. After three or four hours consuming copious amounts of food and beer, George and a couple of the others decided it was time to make their way to their respective homes.

“Hold on boys,” cried Inspector Brigstock, laughing aloud, “I’ll call a cab for you on my new iPhone, wait while I find the blessed thing.” He then fumbled through his pockets, then patted them down, then searched his pockets again, a look of dismay spreading over his face.

“Bloody hell, it’s been nicked. Some bugger’s picked my pockets and had my blasted phone away,” he howled. There was silence from the team.

George had to bite on his tongue to prevent him from making the obvious comment that had just entered his thoughts, despite the disruptive effects of the alcohol he had consumed. He realised the irony of the situation, that not only had his Senior Officer been the victim of a pickpocket but also that he had been surrounded by police officers that had been congratulating themselves for their thief-taking abilities and only two doors away from a police station.