Tuesday, 4 November 2008
I was going to post this the day before Rememberance Sunday, however events have forced my hand a little.
Just over a year ago I was on patrol in a relatively low crime area in my divison - low crime in comparison to the rest of the borough anyway. Those living in the Ivory Towers would still be shocked by the sheer brazenness of the criminality that goes on in the area.
Whilst driving around late at night, I turned the lights out as I went down a side street which bordered a local park. The park was part of a church; although there had been no reported crimes there (so hence completely unworthy of our attention), I had talked to the Priest and discovered he was getting more and more trouble from drinkers and drug takers hanging around there.
He had also been suffering minor criminal damage to the church, and had drinks thrown at him when he had asked them to leave. Of course, none of this had been reported. When I asked why, he shrugged and held out his hands: "My daughter is in the Police and my son in the Army - I know how short you are, I wouldn't like the idea that I would be taking Police Officers away from tackling REAL crimes and more deserving victims."
This is the kind of attitude often displayed by those who both need and deserve our help most, and it is tragic that whilst the Priest (and many elderly people especially) suffer in silence so as not to bother us, the local oiks get yet another Police car, yet another CID officer, yet another pointless arrest, yet another intervention from outside agencies... for a threats by text from an ex. Again.
Anyway. Deep breath. Back to the story.
On this occasion, as I went lights out on the car, I saw the sillouhettes of two figures, crawling over the side gate that led into the churchyard park.
I was still some distance away, so coasted down towards them, slowing down and coming to a stop using my handbrake in order to keep the brake lights off.
As I stepped out of the car, they were well inside the park, so my operator trotted around to the main gate to prevent their escape.
Which left me with the mission of climnbing over the gate, wearing twelve pounds of body armour and a utility belt - whilst also trying to remain silent.
It's as surprising to me as to you that I managed it relatively well.
I spotted the two figures straight away, hunched over a wall. They were so busy talking that they didn't even notice me until I had a hand gripped into their hoods on their tops, and had started to twist hard to keep hold.
What I had seen had convinced me that they would not be leaving the park without a new pair of shiny bracelets.
In the darkeness, lit by distant street lights, the moon and a Nokia mobile phone, it was immediately clear what they had been doing. Crouched in front of a war memorial, a can of spray paint at their feet - and a giant swastika still dripping wet over the headstone.
I've arrested a huge amount of nasty people, but rarely has the temptation been so great to show them the error of their ways myself. I managed to resist though, and instead opted for icy calm.
One of them tried to pull away, and his look of sullen insolence changed to something like panic as I held on - I think he realised he was going nowhere.
I was joined by my partner, who quickly realised the situation and assisted by taking one of the two fifteen year olds.
I then made a quick decision - the paint was still wet, and if wiped at now might well be removeable. However, that would remove all evidence of the offence, and there was no way these two were not being arrested.
After a quick conflab with my oppo, the two suspects were cuffed hand to hand, round a tree so they couldn't leave. A quick dash to the car, and luckily there was a camera in the boot. After a very quick bout of photography, I explained to the lads what happened next: "Right, just so we're clear here. You ARE getting arrested. Right now I am going to attempt to clean this paint off. I've got absolutely no power to make you clean it, but if you do it will go in my notes and be read WHEN you go to court. If not, I will describe exactly how you refused to help and instead watched as we cleaned it."
Funnly enough, both offered to help.
One asked about cleaning cloths; by this point my oppo had found a bucket of water from somewhere in the church yard. I looked at the youths in their Kappa hoodies. "It's a warm night, isn't it boys...?"
Later, in custody, a senior officer questioned my decision to arrest two juveniles for minor criminal damage that they had attempted to clean up. I was about to blow a fuse, when my oppo tactfully asked the Supernintendo if he knew the circumstances; once explained, to be fair the Super was on our side.
"These two are getting charged. Understand? They ARE getting charged."
Coppers don't look lightly on situations like this.
You'll be pleased to know, neither did the Judiciary.
The church has now paid a huge amount (destined for the upkeep there) to help secure the graveyard. The Priest still doesn't report incidents when he kicks people out, but most importantly the families of the men named in the memorial never found out about the damage caused.
This post was posted earlier than expected, due to THIS news story.
I wasn't aware of it, until someone emailed me to tell me about it - no idea if he wants to have his name plastered about, so I'll just say thanks to TF for it.
I can only hope that when the buggers are caught for it, the same attitude displayed by the Police, CPS and Judicary in my case is shown in theirs as well.
To the copper/s that hopefully arrest these lowlifes, a genuine offer from me - a bottle of bubbly if I ever find out who you are.