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?”

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