Quite a few years ago on a sunny morning whilst driving my traffic patrol car I saw a man stood at the side of the road. This wasn’t a villain I knew or a member of the public expecting me. It was a tall, slim and very smartly dressed detective.
I pulled up alongside and lowered the passenger side window. We knew each other well. He used to work on my unit. He rested his arms on the door frame and looked into the car with a huge smile on his face. I asked how he was and how he was getting on in his new role. He was loving it. He admired the new car I had been allocated and asked after my family. We chatted for 10 minutes at the roadside before a call pulled me away. I left him on the roadside waiting to be picked up by someone from his department. I was delighted to see him. He was full of life and energy and clearly enjoying his role, his life and his family.
I never saw him again. A few days later, whilst on duty, he was murdered. I was on duty that day. I was in the office and the Sgt came dashing down to the parade room and flicked the channel over on the big VHF set. “There’s an officer down on the other side of town.” We sat and listened as the information came over the radio and then it went quiet. The Sgt had now found the incident on the computer. The information that couldn’t be passed over the radio was there in black and white on the incident log. The Sgt’s head dropped. My friend and colleague was dead.
I’ve never known silence like it. There were about 8 of us in the office at the time as we were on overlap. You could have heard a pin drop. Every one of us knew him and had worked with him. I couldn’t take it in. I didn’t know what to think or what to feel. My team’s duty time was almost over and so the Sgt just stood us down there and then. “Go home lads and hug your families, the late staff have the roads now.”
I drove home. The journey took about an hour. I don’t remember any of it. I was on autopilot. I got home, wandered into the house and flopped on the sofa. My wife was in the kitchen. “Hi, want a cup of tea?” I don’t think I replied as she came looking and found me sobbing my heart out.
It’s the one and only time that this has happened in 20 + years service as a police officer.
Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. My wife had the day off and so we went out for a little while and I ignored twitter. When we got home I went to bed to try and catch a couple of hours before night shift. I had a quick look at twitter and the whole awful news of what had happened in GMP became known to me.
I brought myself up to date with the latest news and then sent out a few tweets. I found myself welling up.
Police Officers are a unique breed. We are emotional and social beings just like everyone else. Yet we deal with the extraordinary and the downright awful. We often bury our feelings; a self preservation tactic to shield us from the trauma we see. This can manifest itself, to those exposed to it, as being cold and callous. The loss of PC’s Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone will reverberate across the service both nationally and internationally. We will all feel that pain in the policing family. We all know that it could just as easily have been us attending that incident.
The thin blue line is stretched and getting thinner but yesterday it also became stronger, more determined and unyielding. Cut us, we bleed. Wrong us, we hurt but no matter what, you can never take away our pride.
Nicola and Fiona we are proud of you. God bless you both and may you rest in peace.
Care of Police Survivors (COPS) @UK_COPS is a charity dedicated to supporting the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
WEBSITE HERE There is no better time to show your support to our fallen heroes by making a donation. Follow the instructions on donation page or text COPS01 and amount to 70070 e.g. ‘COPS01 £10’