Via UK Officer James – The Last Call To Attention Part 3: The End of The Beginning
For me thoughts frequently come back to Winston Churchill. He was a man with huge issues, massive flaws. He was human; and that is why I hold him in such high regard.
He embraced his problems and they did not prevent him from taking one of the greatest stands in recent history. He was witty in a time of catastrophe, he was to the point, often abrupt; he did something great. He united and inspired, not just one nation but many, to overcome.
To quote the man himself, in a way that is relevant to what must come next:
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.
When I made the Last the Call to Attention, it wasn’t because I genuinely thought the end of the Police, an absolute finish, was coming.
I made it because I wanted to give a very public reminder about something that had never really gone away; our sense of duty, our morality, the fact that we are bound by our oaths and still stand, as the sworn few, no matter what is happening in the world around us.
We hold the line. We are the calm before, during and after the storm.
We needed that call and, it seemed, the message wasn’t going to be forthcoming from above.
When I wrote The Last Stand, it wasn’t because I thought Rome was falling and figured it would be best to pick up a sledgehammer and take it to the service, rather than leave someone else to do it.
I wrote it because I wanted us to face up, to really face up, to some of the problems that exist that we continue to tip-toe around; for fear of punishment, or fear that we will allow those who have us in their sights to load more ammunition.
No fear. No affection. That applies even to ourselves.
We are the last guardians of morality and with that comes the responsibility for our own domain.
Far from the being the end, those two pieces were the beginning of something.
However, unlike the Police, beginnings do have an end.
What I have come to realise is that there are good cops out there, an overwhelming majority. We do believe in our oaths, we do want the service to be better; each of us cares about the public.
I have come to realise that the general public do support us, do want the good cops out there. They believe, having seen us speaking openly and candidly, that we believe in our oaths, that we want the service to better; that each of us cares about them.
I have also come to realise though, that there are still so many issues of trust, so many engrained illusions and delusions that it will be difficult for all people to understand us without more work; without our stall being laid out more clearly, more publicly. More openly.
People need to know us as individuals, know what we stand for. Know that we mean it.
That is is the only way we can ever fully overcome the police/public divide.
It has to start somewhere, it has to start with someone; someone has to be the first to tread the path otherwise no-one will ever find out where it leads. Deep breath.
My name is James. I’m 32. (My birthday is within days but I’m ignoring that for as long as possible).
I am a husband and haven’t always been the best at it. I am a father and will be the best at that if it kills me.
My first home was a council house, my family is now utterly dysfunctional, the centre ripped out of it when my mum died way back in 2001. But, before that, I was brought up with good values, humour, decency, honesty (even when the truth hurts) and respect for the values and opinions of others; even when you disagree with them.
I found school too easy and not a source of enough stimulation to harness my concentration, so, I coasted out of it with GCSE’s and went to work at seventeen. Until 2004 I just did whatever I needed to do, to pay the bills. (When I say whatever I mean it, I’ve been from Mortgage Advisor to IT and, at one point, was hauling boxes at the airport from 2am until 6am then putting in a twelve hour day, doing back-breaking Grounds Maintenance).
I joined the Police on the 10th of May 2004 and have never looked back. I found myself in a promise made, in front of a packed room of strangers.
I say on monitoring forms that I am a Christian and, believe me, there have been days when I have talked at length to God, but I don’t go to church.
As far as I am aware I am one of the only ‘Lapsed Christian’ Police Officers to have driven around, daily, in a bright red, 1969 Pontiac Firebird, blasting out NWA.
I am a fully qualified Sergeant but can’t pass through the promotion system to gain my stripes, I just don’t understand how it works. Still, I have been carrying out the role of Sergeant, either Temporary or Acting since 2008.
I have been commended four times, for closing a whole block of flats as a crack house, for bravery at a fatal care home fire, for the arrest of a very dangerous individual armed with a knife who had attacked two members of the public, unprovoked; for leadership. I get personal thank you letters from ranking officers for arresting rapists, burglars, paedophiles.
In all of this I get a little bit uncomfortable, I just see it as doing my job. No-one has ever ordered me to do any of these things; I do them because that is what I am there to do; much as it was once to make sure a lawn was perfectly striped at a Wedding Venue.
Also to consider is the horror of the ‘ceremony photograph’; I pull the most amazing faces when someone first advises me that a photo MUST be taken. You should see my warrant card.
I’ve stood in front of neighbourhood forums in the worst areas of my force and turned stony, disbelief in words spoken, into standing ovations for actions taken. I did this, not by magic, but by doing my job and being honest about what I could and would do; I never break my promises, I will always find a way. (On the rare occasions were I can’t find a way, I’ll say so and explain why).
I deride more comfortable pleasure, from the little thank you notes I’ve been passed; my favourite being from a lady who’s bike I rescued. I think it is was Einstein who said there is no such thing as a big or small problem.
There are just problems and my job is to resolve them, that’s what I promised, to protect and to serve. I never saw any clause that said I must be selective about it and, I think, this is exactly how the wider public see it too.
I carry a lot of weight on my shoulders, things that other people should not have to know, I have cut cable ties from where they should never have been in the first place. I do not talk about this with my family or anyone who asks because it is not for them; there are some things that nobody needs to know.
I am not scared of anyone; if I think something is wrong I will do all that I can to set it right, and even when I finally hit a wall, I may still be inclined to repeatedly bang against it to see if there is any give in the mortar lines. I will do this beyond the point where it hurts me.
Equally, If I think something is right, or there is a better way of doing things, I will knock on doors until one is opened and someone listens. People who know me, know this.
I will not back down, never give up, never surrender.
I know my job, inside out and, what I don’t know, I know how to find it out and quickly. I make it my business to know. If I see people who are not doing their job properly or acting in a questionable way, I will take action, no matter what the personal consequences.
I have, do and will continue to tell people things they might not want to hear; that is part and parcel of what I do. It doesn’t matter to me who that person is, where they come from or what they represent. I won’t apologise for this but I can guarantee you that it is never for any reason, other than I am doing what is required of me.
When I make an error or mistake, I will admit it and rectify it, immediately.
Policing is never personal. No malice, no ill-will.
I have, do and will continue to help people, indiscriminately, when they need to be helped; that is also part and parcel of what I do.
I will not conform to quotas, never have and never will; they are wholly inappropriate, in my opinion, in the context of the police; but if I am managing a person and see they produce absolutely nothing, the reasons will be looked at and the issues will be dealt with.
I will always take part in a productive debate or discussion but, that is reliant on the ability of the other person to sit down and listen as well as stand up and shout. Sometimes, just sometimes I may have to play a legal trump card, but not without having a reason and explaining it first; and when I do take that step, all I ask is that people listen to what I’m saying.
It makes the experience more positive and genuine. It stops the prolification of animosity and fosters better understanding for the future. Confrontation is not a desirable result for anyone.
So, this is me. James.
Just a normal bloke, a hard working fella.
What I hope you know now is that, although I am not perfect – far from it – I am dedicated, tenacious and will put myself second, third or even fourth; to make sure that I am doing the right thing by you.
I am a good bobby, a decent cop.
What I hope you know now is that, I will do whatever needs to be done, to protect you, to serve you in the capacity of my office. I will take on giants without fear and am not so blinded by affection that I won’t deal with problems within the service.
This is the end of the beginning, the cards are on the table, you know that people are out there, people like me. People who are just like you; who just happen to wear a uniform.
I make no judgements, so pass none on me, until of course, you know me; after that you can think whatever you like and I will respect your opinion. Although, as previously stated, I may not agree with it.
I hope this has gone some way to creating a fresh start, for all of us.
The much needed new beginning that will allow us to reconcile the differences that have grown, bridge the gap between us; Police and public.
I am not against you, I am for you.
I will do whatever needs to be done, nothing too big or small, in order to keep my promise (I don’t break them).
Above all, you now know that I am not alone.
I started this with Winston Churchill and it seems fitting that the end of the beginning should conclude in the same way.
“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word; freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope”
I want to open a new chapter here so I must make sure I set the right tone; I must get this right. So, I’m going to keep it simple and hopefully great, as can be.
My promise to you, is this:
I will protect and serve.
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