I have been a police constable for 12 years, the majority of that spent as an emergency response officer in the south of Lancashire.
I joined on the back of completing a degree and spending two years working in the technology industry and put simply I desired the perceived challenge and sense of purpose. I associated at the age of 23 with being a police officer; helping people, bringing criminals to justice and the requirement to test your capabilities to the limit and think fast in a range of circumstances.
12 years on I never fully appreciated the all encompassing demand placed on the shoulders of the front line cop, nor the diverse and at times unbelievable depths that some people will sink to. Whilst police vehicles, equipment, computer systems and the law have all changed over my service the work has not, with the exception of the powerful beast that is the internet.
A standard set of day, evening and nights shifts could cover such mundane events as watching a prisoner in hospital; reporting the theft of goods; neighbours falling out over the placement of wheelie bins; dogs, sheep, cows and horses running wild; trees falling down; traffic lights not working; cars parking illegally; drunks wanting to urinate in your hat; people abusing each other on Facebook and Twitter.
An equally realistic set of shifts could have you facing some of the most testing of circumstances; serious vehicle collisions with life changing or fatal injuries, sudden deaths of children, serious assaults on strangers and “loved ones” by their partners, suicidal person, missing people, burglaries, robberies, shootings, terrorism alerts and people attacking you for doing your job.
Regardless of how I see the incident, be it murder or noisy kids in the street, every person I interact with wants me to cure their problem because it is the most important thing to them at that time. That means every day is an A game day regardless of which side of bed you got out of or what’s happening in your own life.
Did I think when I joined I would be fighting with people, disarming people with knives and guns, arresting people for attacking their partners or random strangers, thieves, burglars, murderers and rapists, not forgetting the foot and car chases? Damn right I did.
Did I think I would have to tell people their loved ones had died and watch them deal with that news, fainting or collapsing on you? Stripping corpses every other week, performing CPR, searching a dance floor for someone’s teeth, climbing on roofs to talk people out of suicide, rehousing children, being emotionally and physically drained at the end of some shifts having not stopped and not eaten for 10 hours plus? No, I can’t say I did, but neither did I expect to meet for the most part such a committed group of dedicated, funny, supportive, hard working, professional and like minded people who give everything to protect others.
This job is hard, rewarding, testing; exasperating, monotonous, diverse; thrilling, fast paced, slow paced and everything in between, your get more criticism than thanks and it opens your eyes to the world. Despite every week for the last 12 years saying to myself “I’ve seen it all now”, something always surprises me the next week.
It isn’t for everyone but I love it.
Immediate Response Officer