I have been a serving police officer for six years. In this time, I have learnt that police officers tend to hang back from the truth when it comes to emotion, and I include myself in that. I have dealt with some serious incidents where I walk away saying I’m fine, and its another day at work, but inside I cant help but feel shocked and on one occasion, slightly disturbed by what I had seen. Have I ever been offered counselling for such times? Never. Have senior management ever commented on a job well done? Never.
The reason I say this now is because of the recent murder of a soldier in Woolwich. This was a horrendous attack of an innocent solider going about his daily business. I’m not going to dwell on this too much as everybody already knows this and the media are still covering it. I want to focus on the reaction of the police and public.
Going back to the emotions of police officers, I know hardly any would admit this, but again including myself… We cant help feel vulnerable after this event. Having sat down and read updates of what happened and how things emerged, I cant help but think, it was so close to being a standard response car going to a stabbing or attack. The reality of it is that if the street was not as busy as it was and the members of public were not as switched on and there was no CCTV, they could easily have gone forward, and I have no doubt that the two males would have attacked and possibly killed officers going forward.
This is our job, to go towards incidents people run away from. Since the Woolwich attack I have dealt with two stabbings, and each time its been in the back of my mind… Is this going to be another terrorist, is this going to be a copy cat or is this a fake call forward because someone wants to kill police, such as the events in Manchester. With this in the back of my mind, we still go forward, we cant hold back, its our job regardless of our feelings.
I have dealt with members of public who have praised the bravery of officers, not only those involved in Woolwich, but all police. I have also dealt with people who have been shouting abuse at the police saying it was our fault, we didn’t get there quick enough, the first officers on scene should have done something.
Its become apparent over the past six years that people forget we are human beings. I don’t just mean the public, I mean our senior management and parliamentary leaders. I am not writing this to have a rant about Theresa May’s fantastic choices or the Windsor report, I just wish they would open their eyes and see what we deal with and put with on a daily basis. They have to realise policing cannot be treated as a business, it is what it is. Policing needs as much help as possible, not doing it in such a way the public think there are more officers on the street.
The people that were first on scene to the Woolwich murder would have continued their duties the day after… They would not be offered counselling and support for what they had seen. Yes, its their job, but as I started the sentence, they are people, not just police officers.
I recall last summer, in June, in one day I dealt with…. A domestic incident where a man had fractured his partners eye socket, I then went on to take a report from a mother who’s two year old daughter had been seriously assaulted, I then went on to be first on scene to a murder of an elderly person. This was surreal and not everyday is like that, but it’s a fact that this is what we can deal with. This was all within a change of shift pattern taking normality from my life for the Olympics.
As above, I am not going to slag of parliament here, it isn’t the place for it. But I would love to show this to Theresa May and say “Ma’am, take a walk in my boots” just so she can see how her choices will affect the police and the people within…. I would also remind her they I had to personally pay for my boots as we don’t have them issued.