Offline

On 31st October Tomasz Kroker was sentenced to 10yrs in prison. Whilst driving along the A34 at 50mph in a truck he collided with stationary traffic. Nothing new there. Collisions happen every day right? Well this one was different in that as consequence a woman and three children tragically lost their lives. So what was the cause? How could this have happened? Kroker was scrolling through music tracks on his phone to choose his next track. With eyes off the road and mind off the road he left a trail of destruction and devastation that nobody wants to see on our roads.

On 6th September Christopher Gard was sentenced to 9yrs in prison. With 8 previous convictions for using his phone whilst driving, Gard chose to send a text message to a friend about a dog walk. Whilst doing so he lost control of his vehicle and collided with cyclist Lee Martin and killed him outright.

Just think about that for a moment. 5 lives taken over the choice of the next music track or something so important as a dog walk

Smartphones and the multitudinous apps that they can run have brought about an always on 24hr society. We can’t stand to be parted from our phones and eagerly await the next alert or notification. Somebody just replied to your Facebook post. Your tweet just got retweeted but by who.. a celebrity maybe? A new Snap from a friend, your Ebay item just got a new bid, a Whatsapp message inviting you to a party. This list goes on. Our desire to be informed, up to date and fully connected is important to us. We thrive on the pace and instancy of our online lives and take it with us wherever we go. The FOMO (fear of missing out) factor plays hard ball with us and when that notification sounds we can’t help but look. We have to know.

Whilst this is great and a product of our desire for information and connectivity this behaviour is spreading to somewhere it shouldn’t. Our cars. It’s a well established fact that driving and using a phone is illegal. In fact, in the UK it’s considered so serious the government are on the verge of increasing the penalty to £200 and 6 points yet the problem persists. If anything it may well be increasing.

People are dying on our roads every day and the involvement of a phone or mobile device is becoming more prevalent. So what can we do about it? Simple. Don’t phone and drive. Don’t text and drive. #DontStreamAndDrive. In fact, if you’re driving, don’t do anything with your phone at all. Even a hands free call is a distraction and can significantly impair your driving performance to the extent it’s equivalent to drinking and driving.

Make a promise to yourself today. Commit to never use your phone behind the wheel of a car. Keep yourself and every other road user safe from injury or death.

We live in an always on, 24hr society and we love it. Make sure you don’t love it so much it overtakes common sense and you switch from always on to permanently offline.

In The Hood

A suspect arrest a short while back
has caused the police to get some flack.
The suspect chose to struggle and fight
the officers using all their might
could not contain this fight, this war
they had to take him to the floor.

The struggle went on
and on and on.

An arm swung up, “look out a fist!”
A cuff placed swiftly on a wrist.
Cuffed, restrained nowhere to go
but with a crowd he made a show.

Immobilised legs, arms no use
with nothing else he hurled abuse.
The crowd recorded with their phones
every cry, wail and groan.
Live video and vines on a loop
on YouTube this will be a scoop.

This will be an Internet hit.
The cops had used all their kit.

With arms and legs out of play
and nothing more he could say
he played his final gambit
spit spit spit

He missed but ohh this was not good.
But wait the cops had a spit hood.
This man was a total stranger
infection was a real danger.
Swiftly placed upon the head
his ill intentions were put to bed.
Bystanders and what they saw
caused outrage, shock and uproar.

Foul behaviour cut off mid flow.
The cops knew they had to go.
On his feet they took their man
and lodged him securely in a van.

The suspect may not ever tell
of what he thought whilst in that cell.
Yet despite how spit hoods might appear
causing shock, anger or fear.
The cops who engaged in that fight
went home to loved ones safe that night.

Civilised society to you and me
is often not what we cops see.
The nasty underbelly of life
can cause gentler folk some strife.
This is just what we cops do.
Fight for our safety, me and you.

PokémonGO or PokémonNO?

The new game sweeping the USA and coming here soon. PokemonGO
A rehash of the old game but now the gamer has to navigate around the game in the real world by GPS location and augmented reality. 
Gamers need to be aware of their own surroundings when out in public with a phone in their hand. It will no doubt be great fun but less so if they cross a road or injure themselves because they are not looking where they are going.
Players can lay a lure to attract Pokemon. What if the lure is laid by those intent on subjecting gamers to crime? 
Those playing the game should have fun but must be situationally aware to reduce their chances of becoming victims of crime. 
Sadly, video footage already exists of gamers hunting down Pokemon whilst driving. This is no different to the issues around the #DontStreamAndDrive campaign. Distracted driving kills. In the case of the latter it can only be #PokemonNO

Golf and #DontStreamAndDrive

When we do something that’s really important to us we focus on it completely and don’t allow ourselves to be distracted. 
I play golf. Badly mostly but I play. When I stand over the ball I zone in on trying to make it the right shot. I have a routine I go through. Stance, grip, visualise the shot, think about cadence, relax, eye on the ball, steady head… swing. Sometimes it works. Other times not.
Many times a golfer will be told or admit to themselves they lifted their head too early. They took their eyes off the ball. What’s the worst that can happen? Well you fluff the shot for starters. You could hit someone, smash a window or damage the club captains car! Extreme examples of course for in most cases you pull your trolley forward 10 paces and try again or wander off toward the rough to search for your ball.
So here’s a thing. We focus on these tasks. Those around us fall silent as we prepare. There is an accepted courtesy that you must not be distracted. Yet the consequences if we are distracted are minor.
Now transfer this to driving a car. We allow ourselves to be distracted in cars without a second thought all the time. Friends as passengers getting excited, bouncing around, singing, laughing. Having fun. You join in. Or, as is the growing trend, using mobile phones in cars. Making calls, sending texts, checking social media or the new danger on our roads… livestreaming. 
The risks of livestreaming and driving are fairly obvious. You’re driving a lethal weapon at speed. Anything can happen and often does. The risks are massively high yet drivers are consistently taking their eyes off the road. Why is it that drivers will livestream and take risks in a highly dangerous environment? Risks that could lead to death or serious injury. Yet when it comes to something as simple as a golf shot they are totally focussed on the matter in hand?

Seem a bit back to front? It does to me.

Don’t allow yourself to be distracted whilst driving. The difference between being an additional shot over par or dead are incomparable.
If something is important. Focus on it completely. If it could lead to your death if you don’t then focus on it as if your life depended upon it…. because it does!
#DontStreamAndDrive

#ProudToProtect

Unlike many of my colleagues around the country, I didn’t grow up always wanting to be a police officer. Policing was just a career option that crossed my radar and looked appealing. Good pay and conditions, promotion opportunities and a huge range of specialisms to diversify into all under one roof. I explored the options and submitted my application form.

On a Monday morning just over 25yrs ago I pulled my car into the Sedgley Park training school at Manchester to begin a job that has been brilliant and bloody awful.

It’s a job where I have cried laughing and a job where I have lost friends and just cried. A job that has occasionally made me hard and insensitive, yet, at other times, filled me with compassion and empathy and pushed me to go that extra mile.

I’ve seen the best that society has to offer and the worst we humans can do to one another.

There really is no job anything like it. It’s been a roller coaster of exhilaration, excitement and fun tempered by frustration, hurt, mundanity and outright “scared to death” fear. Much like every other persons job, there are good days and bad days. There are days when I love the job and other times when I’d gladly walk out of the door and never come back.

So why am I still here? Service? Duty? A calling? The pay, pension and job security? If I’m truly honest it’s a combination of all these factors and many more. Ironically, those of us working in the police service call it ‘the job’. Yet policing is so much more than just a job. It’s a vocation. I don’t really know where it came from but the seeds of my early career grew into patience, wisdom (I hope) and a sense of duty. An honestly held belief that in between the tears, pain, blood, sweat and tears I was making a positive life difference to the person that needed it most at that time. Protecting and offering shelter and support to those people who need it most. Sometimes this has meant stepping well out of our area of responsibility to do something not because we should but because we care. There is no greater feeling of job satisfaction I know. Winning a contract or hitting a sales target just doesn’t come close.

Over the years I’ve worked with some people who have let the side down and made my job all the more difficult. I’ve also worked with people with whom I have put my life in their hands and they in mine. There is an amazing strength in a family and the police service is just that. There is also my own family. A wife and children who support and love me. Without them the whole thing would simply crumble.
I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of my family, I’m proud of my colleagues and for 25yrs I have been #ProudToProtect

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