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elloelloello

wow, has it really been a few months since my last post?

What have I been up to I hear you ask? (or maybe not). Well, not much other than the usual stuff, going to work, selling the house and the inevitable house-hunting that goes with it.

Duty has been a bit of a mixed bag.

I spent 8 days assisting with the training of the explosives dogs (not dogs that explode, that would be messy, but the cheeky pups that are starting their career with Sussex (and other forces) police sniffing out various explosive materials.

Quite an interesting experience and very impressive how eager the dogs are and how quickly they learn. For obvious reasons cant really say much more about the whole affair but if you ever get the chance to get involved in such activities, I would strongly recommend it!

Spent a bit of time covering officers days-off on response over the past few months. Always nice to respond to offences I wouldn't normally get involved with on NPT (mainly domestic violence on a weekend).

Last Saturday I started off attached to two operations (flip-flopping between them accordingly) but as the night went on my crew partners got pick-off one by one until it was just myself driving around in the prison van. The last three hours where crazy and ended assisting response, I think I hit a personal record for the amount of jobs attended within about 90 minutes. "Charlie xxx, can you break for a .....", "thanks for the result, are you free for a.....", "Any officers available for assistance shout...." "can you break to attend.." One look up at the dark night sky and it all become obvious.... a big fat full moon!

Now this isn't a complaint, I actually love it when its busy like that, keeps the adrenalin going, however.... I stood down much later than my previously estimated lateness (my own fault for taking what seemed like a simple transport job) and on my walk home (my partner was meant to give me a lift as we were supposed to finish at midnight.... he did, I did somewhat much later), face flat down in the middle of a road in a residential area was an 18 year slightly worse for wear and quite a bit of road-rash around her chops.

Quick call over the radio and there i was assisting the poor soul while she targeted my boots with her incessant vomiting. Waiting for what seemed like ages (any small amount of time seems ages when you are dodging vomit) the ambulance arrived, stood down after passing her details I had managed to prise out of her. And eventually home to face the 'where the hell have you been' glares emitted from the love-of-my-life

This Sunday I've been ask to help with the new Specials senario day by helping operate radio control.... I guess this means I had better brush up on 'correct' radio speak!

elloelloello

My New Year Eve.... I had the choice of:

a/ spending a small fortune on getting in to a crowded nightclub, waiting ages to be served, being charged a princely sum for a small bottle of un-pronouncable beer and then get battered to death by all and sundry that attempt to pass the dance-floor

b/ sit indoors watching TV on own (other half was on duty)

c/ going on duty from 4pm to 2am.

I chose the latter, and to be honest it wasn't as crazy as I thought it was going to be (having said that, my other half would probably argue that point)

Early evening started like ground-hog day, numerous visits to the same block of apartments and communal roof-top garden where the place was teaming with 14 to 16 year olds being little blighters helped generously by lots of beer, an advert on facebook and no adults anywhere to be seen.

On a subsequent visit, a parent from somewhere tracked me down, "Oi, you, I know the law...." and rambled something about confiscating alcohol on private property.

My colleague went for the "breach of the peace" reply, considering they where throwing bottles of the roof top and being a royal pain in the backside.

I thought of free-styling and going for an optional "S1 Young Persons Act, confiscating alcohol... public were given access... advert inviting public.... relevant place, ergo.... "hand-over yer booz sonny-jim"... but decided not to complicate the repetitive dialogue that was already open.... and maybe a bit thin on the ground... so I continued at a best attempt to patch-up the lobby door that had been disabled by someones handy work of a hammer.

One hour later, back again this time criminal damage. "Well those pictures were ###### anyways" said the parent from earlier referring to the frames hanging on the communal walls that once contained pictures of oil-painted country landscapes but now just large shards of glass hang to the remains.

Across the entire walls of four landings (on four different floors) in the stairwell was a streak of blood, presumably from the suspect considering the amount of skin still attached to a large shard of glass laying on the floor. I did have to stand back and admire his/her commitment to making as much mess as possible on the walls in both directions. I know if i cut my hand, my natural reaction is to stick the effected digits in to my mouth. This little oik felt the need to drag their hand across each wall, go back and do the same but in the opposite direction.

Another hour later, a wet swab, a dry swab, a shard of glass with rather large amount of skin attached and off to the fridge we go. Not that there is a likelihood of the offender being know, but their DNA will sit on the database until their paths cross with the Police again.

1 week later... In the vicinity again, this time the block next door.... "my mate owes me money, I'm not going 'til he pays me" etc etc. I have a sneaky suspicion this newly developed area may become a bit familiar to me over the coming months/years.

The rest of the evening when fairly consistently and stood down from duty about 3.30am.

follow me on http://twitter.com/sc2522

elloelloello

So after lots and lots of emails and memos in the past reminding us about social media networking sites and how we should be carefull, I now have a facebook profile with a picture of me (taken from my attestation) in uniform, it feels really strange!

No I havnt ignored all that I have been told, I am actually taking part in an official study in to social networking media and it's future in neighbourhood policing. Exciting stuff eh?

The objective is to see how people respond and interact with the police online in such environments. 6 officers are taking part in the study (2x PCs, 2x Sc's and 2x PCSO's) half are using an area (such as Lewes) and half of us are using ourselves representing an area (eg Alan Thorn (me) representing Kemptown Brighton) this is guage on what level people engage with, official or on a personal level.

The study will run for a minimum of 3 months and will feed directly back to the Home Office at regular intervals.

Im not a huge consumer of such social media (only just started blogging) so this has been a bit of learning curve, perticularly Twitter (heard of it but never used it before).

Today was Day #1 of tweeting & updating (so that the public can see what I actually do during my duty and how it affects their area) and have noticed that albeit a small number of followers that a few are way up the ladder of Sussex Police.

Hopefully people will feel confident enough to start discussing issues that they have in my targeted area (Kemptown, Brighton) and of course the wider audience can become involved.

There are of course a few official police facebook pages and some profiles on specialist subjects but nothing on quite such a personal level and with involvement in day-to-day policing (correct me if I am wrong). Will be very interesting to see how this is received by the public.

You can visit my Facebook (and befriend me) at http://facebook.com/SC2522 and/or follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/SC2522 (apologies for the shamefull promotion in the Blog subject)

Look forward to your thoughts on this.

elloelloello

Well, its been a little while since I've posted a blog and lots has happened....

My First Official Complaint

Well it had to happen at some point (and have a feeling another one is due soon)!

Rolling around on the floor with a drunk 20-something year old bloke in the high street = no complaint

Pain compliance on a rather large chap trying to head-butt colleagues and myself = no complaint

Arresting a farther at his family BBQ in front of his children on fathers day = no complaint

Rolling around in the back of a prison van with a drug induced chappie = no complaint

Palm-heal striking a very drunk and upset man who's friend (who according to him 'aint done nuthin) had been arrested late on a saturday night = no complaint

Giving a seemingly educated young middle class person a ticket for failing to stop = Aggressive racist bully who spits and shouts.

The reality went something like this.....

While on a cycle safety awareness operation we were tasked with stopping people who went through red traffic lights (amongst other things).

Now this particular person rode gingerly rode through a red traffic light a started to navigate through on-coming traffic, I asked them to stop and said "before you injure yourself can you just go back to the light and wait for it to turn green, there have been a number of accidents involving cyclists in this area and we (the police) are trying to reduce them". "I don't have time, I'm late!" came the reply. "Please can you go back to the lights, wait for it to go green then you can go on your way", "No, this is stupid, I'm very late, I don't have time". "Going through a red traffic light, even as a cyclist is an offence, I'm not going to give you a ticket but I would like you to go back to the traffic lights and wait for them to turn green.". Now, considering we were on a cycle safety operation and had a big pad of £30 tickets to dish out, I think that it was a reasonable request to make. Apparently not.

As he decided to just ride off when he saw a clean break in the traffic. "STOP!" I shouted (so technically he was correct about something), he continued on his merry way. After checking no vehicles where coming I ran into the road, grabbed his cycle rack and said "Jump off please", he dismounted, "Can you join me on the pavement". I took the cycle to the pavement and lent up on some railings. "Im sorry, I tried to offer you some words of advice and asked you go back to the traffic lights and wait, you chose to ignore the request and cycle off, I asked you to stop and you continued. I cant over look this. I propose to deal with this by the means of a fixed penalty notice". The reply was "Im in a hurry I dont have time for this, there must be another way to deal with this..... (repeat several times). "Do you have any ID on you?", "No", "Anything with your name and address on?", "No", "Can you tell me your name and address please?", "No", "In order for me to give you a fixed penalty notice I require your name and address". (repeat previous verse several times).

"You have committed an offence under the Road Traffic Act which I was prepared to overlook, you have committed a further offence under the Road Traffic Act by failing to stop when I required you to do so, In order for me to give you a fixed penalty notice I require your name and address, if you fail to provide me with your details I can arrest you (Im thinking I really dont want to explain this to a custody sergeant), please save yourself the embarrassment of being escorted to our police van (I pointed to it) and taking you to our custody centre."

"its....... (insert name/address here), but I want your details", "No problem, they are on the ticket and I will give you a card with further details of my station and the operation we are performing today. Now, you said you are in a hurry so you may want to call someone to say you are going to be late whilst I fill out the ticket and do a quick PNC check. This will take about 10 minutes"

On the ticket it asks for an ethnicity code, as with most people I show a ethnicity list (neatly stuck to the inside of my Pocket Note Book) and asked them to point to the one that bests describes their ethnicity.

So, a caution, ticket, caution, explanation on when/how to pay and the bit to fill in if they wish to go to court and a neatly filled out police 'business' calling card later he was free to go on his way.

2 weeks later.... I was shown an email accusing me of violently shaking him off his bike while he merrily rode along with his iPod on, shouted at him, pushed him to the side of the road where a crowd gathered (according him the local paper turned up... tho funnily enough nothing appeared in the paper). apparently when I asked for him where he came from I muttered racist abuse and spat at him!

Even though it was an absolute pile of tosh (and anyone could see through it), it still bothered me! me racist? violent?

Luckily I was double crewed and my crew partner was only 20ft away. After he met with my sergeant and Inspector (that kind of accusation would never be ignored) it was all dropped.

Funnily enough (or not) I gave out another ticket the other day when I was on foot patrol and member of public complained that a vehicle was park right across the footpath and they couldn't get by. I walked up and after 10 minutes of trying to locate the owner I decided to start writing out a ticket.... as if by magic the owner appeared out of a nearby shop. I mentioned not only was it parked over double yellow lines it was also parked right across pathway and that someone had complained to me that they had to walk in the road to get round. They seamed to dis-agree with this (I failed to see how they could, after all the vehicle was parked 2ft to my left). Another request for my number and reminder that I will be hearing more about it.

Hmmmm, I think I will just stick to rolling around on the floor with drunken/drugged people while being filmed on a mobile phone which uploads directly to youtube...... no complaints ever seem to come of those!

Holidays

For my boyfriends birthday we took a holiday round the states (New York, Washington, Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco).

As a treat (after a bit of co-ordination from my sergeant and a kind person on response) we met up with a sergeant 'Chuck' in the San Francisco Police Department and a ex-pat who is a serving officer in the SFPD.

We turned up at the precinct and got a tour and met a number of high up people (I got lost in the rank structure). Now I dont know what I was expecting, but I guess it was largly based on all those American Cop TV shows that on the back channels of Sky TV. In a number of ways, its no different to our police stations are organized with an exception to:

Briefing : Consists of standing in front of a large cork-board before starting duty

Amenities : Huge TV room, gym and canteen.

Cells : Two large rooms for multi-occupancy with a large chrome rail to handcuff your detainees to.

Armory : A big room with lots of guns of all types and sizes.

As you can imagine the armory was a source of much interest. It was explained while we stood in the centre of the room "When an officer comes to work he has his side-arm with him (the handgun), he then comes in here and checks-out a shot-gun, a tazer (looks like another shot-gun, wicked stuff) and a tactical rifle". Now I thought my utility belt was full!!!

Where and why? Well, apparently its all needed. The side-arm (utility belt) for those ad-hoc moments when you need to pop-a-cap in someone's ass. The shotgun (front of the car) for general purpose destruction, the tazer (trunk of the car) if you're a panzy and dont wish to spray the public standing close by with someone's intestines and a tactical rifle (trunk of the car) for those moments when suspect has an AK-47 or has body armor (apparently it happens alot). "So? is it true you guys just have a stick?" came the question. "Yes, we all live in castles and cannons are a real nightmare to carry around".

The one thing that struck me was that just like our section police rooms, the walls are covered with 'nominals', known persons who cause a large percentage of the local headaches, except these are dived into gangs..... oh and instead of 9 or 10 badly photocopied pictures they have about 150!

Chuck and his partner (and the SFPD who largely footed the hospitality bill) took us to lunch in the Castro and a few evenings of getting to know the local area (mainly viewed from restaurants and bars). Cant wait to go back!

BDA (Basic Driving Authority) - Prison Vans and People Carriers

Because Im so old and can drive pretty much anything (except busses and trucks). Taking advantage of this I took another driving test so that I can drive the big police prison vans and the people carriers/mini-buses.

I expected (as per my car test) to potter around for half an hour while chatting about random things. Not quite so.

Its been about 8 years since I have driven anything larger than a mid-size saloon car so taking two steps up in to a chuffing great van (that we had to borrow from LST as its not very often anyone is taught these things) I realised it probably wasnt going to be quite the same as my car BDA test.

After plowing my way through Lewes traffic, reversing a few times, parking etc etc we headed back to HQ. "Now park it in there" my instructor pointed to a space between two other vans that only looked large enough park a motorcycle. I lined it up and gingerly reversed the huge lump of metal between the two vans, pulled my wing mirrors in so that it would fit. Opened my door and slinked out in the tiny gap between the vehicles (im pretty slim), maneuvered myself under the folded wing mirrors and took a look back. There must of been about 10 inches either side to spare. "Hmmmm, not bad, could have been better" remarked my instructor!

Anyways, I passed and was told I should apply for the 'standard' course (blues and sirens) as I had good potential (I may have reminded a few people of this since).

RPU (Road Policing Unit, aka Traffic Cops/Black Rats)

I recently spent two days with RPU, which largely consisted of tapping in car registration numbers in the MDT (Mobile Data Terminal) in the vehicle using a dodgy wireless keyboard that had a several keys missing (We had ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) but it was so slow it was easier to do it manually)

I gave out more tickets in 2 days than I have done in the past 12 months (no complaints as yet). It was quite mundane if im honest and we secretly wished for dodgy wet weather so we could attend an RTC (Road Traffic Collision). The team were really nice though.

LST (Local Support Team aka 'The Door Boshers')

Two whole days filled with over-flowing testosterone.

I attended two raids and a demonstration (although I personally I wouldn't have called it a demonstration, more like a few people that were a bit cheesed off).

Again, a great bunch of people who took the time to explain things to me in great detail. It was a good experience.

Cant wait for my attachment with the Dog Unit next month (I've been told I shouldn't pat the dog and tell him he's cute, something to do with ripping my face off). I'll let you know how it goes :S

elloelloello

What a month its been since my last blog!

Lots and lots of patrol! Since gaining IP (Independant Patrol) status it's been nice taking the occasional walk on my own and also crewing with various PCSO's (they do a great job, they are the knowledge bank of who's who of the majority of the local tear-aways ner-do-wells).

So the next step... getting behind the wheel of a police car.

I spent several evenings before my test revising the highway code, learning my thinking and breaking distances!

On the morning I turn up at HQ and sit my theory test (40 multiple choice questions, requiring a pass mark of 36 out of 40) and then jumped into an un-marked family sized saloon diesel with my examiner.

20 minutes of 29mph ten-to-two driving/steering and hand-feed turning, a bit of reversing round corners and polite chatter and hey presto, a yellow sheet of paper and a red-permit in the post!

Next month, its my BDA test for the people carriers/vans. Have a sneaky suspicion it may be a bit more difficult to reverse round a corner! i'll let you know!

elloelloello

From 7.30am on Saturday 7th August 2010 I ignored my nagging alarm clock every nine minutes and at 8.06am I contemplated another 9 minutes of 'snooze' due to only having 4 hours of sleep. I decided that if I was going to make it for briefing I was cutting it a bit slim and left the comfort of my nice warm bed and get ready.

I put on my white shirt which had not been worn since the beginning of this year due to change in force clothing style, my incredibly itchy black trousers, parade boots and my nice new tunic (that I had spent many hours the evening before trying to attach metal numbers to the shoulder pads with not a great deal continuous success) which my boyfriend had ordered online a few months before (I knew if I had got one from clothing's stores I would not want to hand it back afterwards) and headed to John Street police station in Brighton for the 9am parade briefing.

After a few cheery words from the ACC of Sussex and ACC of Hampshire Constabulary we headed out to the parade assembly point by Brighton Pier where we were asked to line up. Now it seems you can rely on the police to keep public order, arrest people, mediate, bosh down doors and such like, but asking us to form an orderly line with 5 people in each row was a task too much! 40 minutes later we were asked to remember our positions and assemble shortly before 11am. I decided to kill a bit of time by have a look at all the floats and of course the scantily dressed people in various forms lycra that at some point started its life as swim/under wear. I think I spent a few minutes trying to guess how many litres of body glitter had been required for this event and if this had lead to a temporary national shortage of the stuff.

1055am and I was frantically removing excess glitter transfer from my tunic thanks to the many photo opportunities that had come about during my little walk.

Just after 11am we started to march, we were at the front of the parade and for a brief few moments we were all actually in an orderly row. The crowd either side where cheering, blowing whistles and 'high fiving' the ACC as we moved along the route. It was nice to see so many people of the public supporting us and everyone in the parade.

After an hour or so of stop-starting while the rest of the parade caught-up we arrived at the finishing point in Preston Park where again a great number of us were asked to feature in photos with people that had been quite imaginative with their parade outfits. A quick ciggy round the back of stand and about 8 packets of Haribo sweets later (they were being dished out by a man that couldn't remember if he had already given you a packet or not) and we were back on a coach bound for John Street police station.

I had just over 10 minutes to get changed into operational clothes, eat a sandwich, drink a coffee and smoke a ciggy before the briefing at the start of my shift. 10 minutes isn't a lot of time to do all 4, so I chose the 2 important ones, get changed and have a ciggy (I know coffee is important, but I managed to work that into the briefing).

Briefing was held by a sergeant I have never met before (well, at least I think he was a sergeant, hard to tell with our new uniforms), "Do you have IP?" he asked, "errr, yes, only just" I replied expecting to be crewed with PC for the big street party in St James Street that follows the pride event.

I was crewed with a PCSO, who's first words to me were "Oh, I'm so nervous, I've never done a big event like this before and we're not in my usual area", "hmmm, I don't want to make you any more nervous, but neither of I, infact this is the first time I haven't been crewed with a PC, oh and you have 18 months more experience than me...... sorry!"

We headed out to our given micro-area and luckily it was a nice quiet one. I spent several hours chatting to my colleague, passersby and old ladies that had no idea why the front of their local Boots/Morrisons/Tescos was mobbed with thousands of people waving rainbow coloured flags. I also nodded a lot!

7pm we were asked to attend the other end (the busy end) of St James Street to cover for officers that had gone for refs. We waded through the crowed as if it was treacle, it took 15 minutes to cover the ground it would normally take 2 minutes. It was getting busy! After asking several men to jump out of the giant litter bins, posing for more pictures for more increasingly drunk women, explaining a number of times to numerous people that you really can't pee in my helmet, denying there is no such offence as section 1 of the crimes against fashion act (if there was quite a few drunk people there deserved 25 years) and directing people to cash machines, toilets and pubs we were asked to wait to be picked up by the main road.

' Oh, refs' I stupidly thought to myself, I will finally get to eat my surely stale unrefrigerated tuna mayonnaise sandwich back at the nick. It didn't take long before I realised we were heading in the wrong direction. "Right, we have intel to suggest there is going to be an illegal rave down at Black Rock (the beach by Brighton Marina), block the road and don't let anyone down there, call up coms get briefed on the ANPR hit", We took out the 'police stop' signs and traffic cones from the vehicle and blocked off the entry road to Black Rock. Coms gave me a description of the vehicle we were looking for and settled in for a stint of traffic control. A nice break from the noise and alcohol fueled street part

I spent my time chatting to an out-of-town sales guy who was waiting endlessly for a taxi he had ordered. I mused with a dear old couple that were strolling down the beach front on the subject of 'youths' and also the merits of trams in cities today. PSU/LST (our public order guys and girls) appeared in 3 vans from behind us, "Oh you have blocked the road off, we were waiting down on the beach". I explained what we were doing and they decided to join my colleague and I. A few minutes later I spot a vehicle turning round and parking up off the distance which vaguely matched the description. I called coms to verify the colour, the confirmed it could be it. PSU/LST heard my radio (they were on a different channel) and decided to talk a drive up. Moments later, lots of blue lights and activity, it was the people we were after. Job done, I waited around for a what seemed to my rumbling stomach as a life time to be picked up and dropped off at the nick for my sandwich.

An hour (and a very crusty sandwich) later at 10pm we were back in the thick of it, we were given the busiest part of the street party, the 100 yards where its shoulder to shoulder. The usual array of requests to wear the police helmet, photo requests, 'are you gay?' questions along with the 'guys calm it down', 'please don't do that', 'wait til you get home', 'put that away' and the 'if you don't <insert request> right now you are going to get <insert consequence> plus responding to a few alcohol related jobs from the radio saw us through til midnight when we were stood down.

Although my feet/legs/back were killing me at the end of the shift, I did actually enjoy it. It gave me some confidence knowing that I managed to get through it all without having to rely on being crewed with a PC.

Because of this, a few days later I went out on patrol for the very first time on my very own..... but that's a blog for later ;)

elloelloello

Well, it's been a strange couple of weeks.

Last week I found myself infront of my PDO (Professional Development Officer) for my final 'knowledge check' before awarded with IP (Independant Patrol). Initially a truely nerve racking experience where I could barely remember my name, let alone the important stuff I have been putting into practice over the past 5 months since leaving Slougham Manor!

I probably wittered on so much my PDO was probably glad to get me out of the office, anyways a bit of signature chasing, scanning and emailing, there it was sitting in my email inbox.... confirmation... all signed off. IP!

There seems to be a bit of tradition on sections that.... on your birthday/achieving something/doing something silly means you buy cakes for the office. I always wondered why there was a selection of Mr Kiplings (and high calorific items that would probably fare better in the fridge) strewn accross the desk by the kettle.

Anyways, good times! Though the very thought of going it alone on the streets is right at the back of my mind, along with giving up smoking, painting the front room and poking myself in the eye with a rusty fork.

A shift this week I was filled with restrained excitement of being filmed with my collegue for some background footage by the local news channel. I probably wasnt looking my best considering not long before my collegue and I had spent some time rolling around on the floor with a persistent chappy who had been drinking copious amounts of alcohol. However it didn't stop me from texting my mum with instructions to watch the local news and recording it on the sky+ box, all 18 seconds of it! (oh, you'd have done the same).

This weekend is the Brighton Pride, I will be marching in the parade and then on duty til midnight. Really looking forward to it :)

elloelloello

Okay, as computery type bloke and a person that likes his Internet, has all the gadgets known to the western world, you'd have thought I'd know what blogging is all about, well to be honest, I had shut my eyes and ears to all this blog nonsense until a few evenings ago when my partner was enjoying his stint of late shifts on response I thought I'd have a nose round PoliceSpecials.com (I had heard of it during my specials training).

I read a post about gay officers and recruitment so I decided to add my first post about my own personal experience of unintentionally outing myself during day 1 of training (which I used to start this blogg), I received a number of messages in response which were more or less 'Thanks, I've been nervous about what training is going to be like'.... this prompted me to post 'My Survival guide to Specials Police Training at Slougham'.... with all the positive feedback and contact I've had from my posts made me think about this thing that everyone else seems to know all about.... blogging.

I thought I'd blog just the usual stuff that I get up to as an average middle aged ho-hum run-of-the mill kinda guy who's a volunteer police officer serving in Sussex, oh and happens to be gay (I haven't ever 'blogged' before so forgive me if I break any 'blogging protocol' if there is such a thing?).

As you can image the content of the coming months etc may be limited in detail, after all, I don't want to:

* Talk about things that: a) I'm not qualified to. b) Anthing I don't have the experience to formulate an educated comment on.

* Discuss what should or shouldn't be with regards to law/policing/funding/policy/(insert endless list of topics everyone seems to have an opinion on) and such like (see point above).

Maybe if I had started blogging 6 months ago, it would have contained a blog something like:

After my first ever arrest on my second day of PDU, I stood before the custody sergeant eager to demonstrate to everyone my newly learnt search skills, I started systematically searching thoroughly at the top and worked down to the feet. After checking his socks and shoes the custody sergeant passed me a wand like metal detector which beeped as he tested it against his computer monitor. I scanned my compliant subject and his jacket that was laying in front of the desk, not a single beep. I handed the wand back to the custody sergeant to which he replied "that's great, now if you could just do it again, but this time switch the wand on!". I felt so embarrassed and I re-scanned my now smirking arrestee (this time with the 'on' button pressed firmly down). I picked up his jacked and scanned it with the wand which sent it into a beeping frenzy as I waved it over the collar of the jacket, I looked closely, nothing, scanned it with the small area scan, 'beeeeeep', looked again, nothing, scanned again but the beeping wouldn't stop. "perhaps it could be the metal ring on your finger that you are holding the jacket with?" sighed the custody sergeant.

You may have guessed, I'm new at being a special and although I have flown the nest of initial training and scuttered off from PDU (the tutor unit) and landed only a few short months ago at my final destination, hopefully this will serve a purpose to anyone that wants to know what being a special is like and the things you may get up to, also for me to reflect back on how my seemingly never ending learning develops during my specials career.

I'm on duty later this week and with the fast approaching Brighton Pride gathering momentum there should be something to blog about :)

elloelloello

I came out to everyone when I was 19...... almost 2 decades later I came out to my colleagues on day 1 of my special training. It was not planned.

There where exactly 40 of us (students) assembled in the welcome room of Slougham Manor (the residential training venue for Sussex Police) grinning ear-to-ear at just the thought we had made it through all the form filling, tests, medicals and more form filling to day 1 of the course.

After a brief welcome we were asked to stand up one by one just to introduce our self briefly with a summary of our name, what division we were posted to and what made us interested in joining the specials.

Now, I'm a very out person, never hidden my sexuality from anyone, never needed to and also never felt the need to flaunt the fact I'm gay to anyone, so to stand up and wave a flag saying so was far from my mind. I started with a wobbly voice (public speaking is really not my forte) "hello, my name is MIchael, I'm going to Brighton. I have been interested in the police and thought about it for sometime, my boyf.... er, partner joined the regulars a few years back and hearing about his experiences has really made me want to join".

For what felt like an absolute eternity there was 39 students looking at me and also a number of very important looking people with weird symbols and letters attached to their shoulders. Everyone applauded as they did with the previous students and the person next to me stood up to give their introduction.... and so it went on.

I didn't really pay attention to the following 5 or so students, I just kept thinking "I've just announced to a room full of strangers that I'm gay. Oh ****." It was never my intention to out myself quite so quickly, but since I have lived with my partner for 10 years and as such he is very much a part of my life. It is very difficult to summarise many aspects of my life without including him in it. This was the first time in many years I had actually considered the consequences of being out in my environment.

The following half hour I kept noticing the odd glance at me as I sat listening to my new colleagues speak about themselves. It made me feel a bit uneasy as quite easily three quarters of attendees where young guys. It seemed a very 'laddy' atmosphere amongst the male genre. As we approached the end of the introductions a guy stood up and announced his name and reasons for joining. "great" I thought, at least I'm not alone.... In an instant I could tell he was also gay.

After our welcome to Sussex Police chat we had a run down of the course objectives and announced our uniforms will be distributed the next day, everyone looked so excited!

On my way back to the accommodation block I was invited to join a small group that where going to the local pub, I threw my bag containing an assortment of newly received handouts and a collection of shiny new pens in to my room and ventured on a very long and dark trek to a (not so) local pub (Slougham Manor, as the name would suggest is an old manor house in the middle of the Sussex countryside).

At the pub I supped on my pint of beer (never drank beer from a pint glass before especially in a pub (my usual would be a bottle of something in a trendy gay bar in Brighton) so felt like a fish out of water). As a few hours passed I had chatted and started to feel quite comfortable. Nothing was mentioned about my earlier self-outing.

The following day was dedicated to exclusively to 'Diversity Training'. At a few points there did seem there were a few well chosen but probably slightly inaccurate words while on the topic of 'homosexuality'. It made me feel more uncomfortable than perhaps it did our lecturer, only for the fact the mere mention of the word sent heads turning in my direction.

That night, most of the people on the course took the same expedition to the 'local', (the landlord was very pleased with his new patrons). There was a buzz in the air as we had only hours previously received our new uniform, tried it on (and sent the obligatory media text message containing photos taken on our mobiles in the mirror sporting our said new kit to our respective partners).

There is something special about putting on your uniform for the first time. It makes everything very real. It gave everybody something to chat about enthusiastically. That night chatted to a few people on the course that I would otherwise cross the street on a dark evening to avoid (an example of prior use of my built-in dynamic risk assessment). Actually everyone seemed quite nice.

As the weekends went by we all got to know each other better (helped generously by the evenings spent at the pub). At our newly found local pub (for several weeks we had actually been walking in the wrong direction) course-mates started to approach the subject of my sexuality on more personal level and after announcing "you can ask me anything, I won't be offended unless you mean to be offensive" the questions flooded in.... in fact it was quite an entertaining weekend (and genuinely educational for some, including myself!).

Halfway through the course I couldn't believe actually how I had felt at the start. I felt very much a part of everything. Don't get me wrong, you can't have a group of 40 people from all walks of life, all different social and demographic groups and expect to get along with everybody as best-buddies. Some people drove me crazy but this had absolutely nothing to do with sexuality.

Towards the end of the course a lot of time is dedicated to 'Staff Safety' for those of you that dont know what that is... it includes escorting people, take-downs, floor pinning, hand-cuffing, batons etc and searching. For 5 whole days, you randomly pair-up with a class mate and practice a demonstrated technique a couple of times, swap partners and then practice the next one. It generally makes you ache at the end of the day and your wrists are usually left a deep shade of red for several hours.

Searching.... As force guidelines suggest, it is preferable for women to search women and men to search men. The tutor demonstrated a search technique to the class "guys, do a thorough search" when he reached the groin area on his subject "make sure you cover all areas, you know what is meant to be down there as I sure you all know, you need to feel enough to ensure there is nothing there that shouldn't be, don't be shy, be as thorough as you are every other part of the body, it may not be pleasant for you or your subject but it is a favorite place for them to hide things". Again, I started to feel awkward.

During the immediate coffee-break the other gay bloke (sorry 'gay bloke' but don't want to mention your name) and I decided to save embarrassment to anyone and pair up to search each other. Upon re-entering the classroom to resume the lesson on searching there was the usual random offers to pair up, nobody seemed at all bothered that it was going to get a bit personal. My worries (and also said other gay bloke) where completely unfounded.

The weekends following the completion of the course it felt weird. I really missed it, the people and the social aspect of the residential course.

Perhaps joining the specials is one of the best decisions I made. I learnt a lot about myself (and of course some stuff about Conflict Management, First Aid, Staff Safety and some stuff about law).

I have stayed in touch with several of guys/girls from the course and often go out in Brighton bar/club-hopping and reminisce on many of the funny antics that we all got up to on the course.

After attending PDU (tutor unit) for a couple of months and now out on NPT (Neighborhood Policing Team) in Brighton I'm loving it. I'm a part of a team amongst other specials and hugely experienced regulars that couldn't give a damn about my sexuality (though you could argue that's because gay is fairly main-stream in Brighton). I would like to think that as in any police (and idealistically any) team, your peers look at you on how you perform your role within it.

Source: Coming out of the Blue