Career Cop tells the story of a lad from a council house background who followed a career with Cumbria Constabulary with no qualifications other than a willingness to work hard and learn from his peers. This book looks back at his life as a Police Officer.
My first sudden death was not quite as easy
Up to this point in my 26 and a bit years, I had never seen a dead body or experienced death head on as it were. So I’m on nights, out driving the divisional van with my most senior sergeant of the shift. A lovely guy, a true gentleman, devout church-goer, he never drank, never smoked, never swore, and pity help you if you swore in his presence!
Dispatched to a terraced property on Melbourne Street in the city, the job bore all the characteristics I was to later recognise of the possible demise of an elderly person. Not been seen for a couple of days, milk still outside, curtains drawn, post still in the letter box. Classic!
We arrive to find the house secure. A few enquiries with the neighbours and a forced entry is affected. I think he took a size 10 if I remember rightly. So no response to the noise or our calls once inside. A check of the lower floor proved negative (see, I’m learning the language) but on climbing the very steep stairs we find the poor old lady in bed, deceased.
Straightforward, yes. But this was my first dead body and to be honest I was quite shocked. She had obviously passed away in her sleep. The white death mask expression on her aged face made her look remarkably sad but pained too. But this may have been affected by the pile of empty Sherry bottles about 2 feet high beside her bed? On the other side of the bed was a similarly high pile of used paper tissues. I can still visualise the scene now.
My first road accident happened on the same road funnily enough
This particular stretch of road had a sequence of dips so acute that a car could disappear into one and be invisible to any car coming the other way.
And so it was that Vehicle 1 travelling towards Brampton goes to pass a slower moving car on what appears a long clear straight road. Another car hidden in the dip pops up and crunch! Two cars, head on, fortunately speeds were not that high, so no serious injuries, just bent motors.
I get there with my tutor traffic type driver and find two shaken but not injured drivers. I am instructed to get details from the rather shaken lady driver from the third car that came out of the dip. So armed with my little white traffic accident book and drawing on my experience of how to address her, I calmly reassure her that all is well, could have been much worse, cars can be replaced etc etc. and the insurance will sort things at the end of the day.
I glance rather smugly at my colleague feeling really assured of myself and my new “Police Speak” to seek his approval, turn back to the lady and, she’s gone! For a few seconds I am perplexed but then I locate her. Lying at my feet, passed clean out. I’ll never be really sure if it was as a result of the accident or talking to me. Memorable though.
Working with the dogs
I recall one very hot summer’s day being in Bowness on Windermere down on the Promenade waiting for a shoplifter to come my way from the village centre. I was out standing on the footpath beside a group of senior citizens off a coach.
It was such a hot day I’d left Ben in the van, windows down, fans going full tilt. As I kept my eyes open for our man, a little old lady sitting on the low wall beside me said, “Ee Ethel, yon going for a dip in t’Lake… Can tha see him constable?”
Flippin heck, I thought, I’m here being vigilant waiting for a thief and this old bat wants to discuss dogs going for a paddle.
I glance round and see a large German Shepherd trotting toward the lake shore.
“Yes, I say, he looks like he’s hot. In fact he looks a lot like my dog.”
Bloody hell, it is my dog! Sly hound had got his nose between the square grill and the wooden door in the back of the van, managed to rattle it free, onto the front passenger seat, out of the window, and was off for a dip!
Being street wise was also an asset
Our shift was being plagued on nights by a lad from the West of the City who drove a white Ford Cortina Mk 2 Lotus. More than a match for our 850 mini’s as hard as we tried.
Sunday night, last night of the shift and he’s out and about. He comes past me and my then tutor and Area 5 panda driver, guns it, wheel spins, and he’s off up Dalston Road. We follow but are left way behind. So we start to make our way back to the city when, in the darkness, we see car lights coming towards us.
My mentor, tutor, whatever, slams the brakes on, and reverses into a large private house gateway. Not that large, sadly, as there is a definite ‘CRUNCH’ at the rear of the car. A vehicle passes us, not our man. Rear of vehicle inspected, indicator and brake cluster bust. Bugger he says, or similar. So what are we gonna do?
Gets to 0545 and we head in.
I’m told, ‘Follow me into the office and say now.’
So we are in the report room, “Sgt *** to PC ***, can I see you in the back yard please?”
“Roger, on way.”
“You’ve a broken light at the back. How did that happen?”
“Ee, dunno, sarge, we parked up on Raffles Avenue for a walk earlier”
“Ah, must have been then,” the sergeant says.
I relax. Lesson learned.