Thursday, 30 August 2007

School Playtime

There was I, navigating the small rat-runs of an estate on our patch and trying not to crash the police car. My Sergeant had given me strict instructions: “try not to crash the police car.” I was doing my best, as I hate it when I get the disappointed look from him.

I heaved the car around a corner and saw a male that I recognised. My colleague also recognised him, that much was obvious, as he said “it’s that bugger again!” and immediately leapt out of the car.

It’s not uncommon for people to get out of the car when I’m driving, but I felt it safe to assume that there was actually a reason for my colleague’s hasty departure rather than sheer blind terror.

There was. The radio crackled into life: “BX, chasing suspects on foot, he’s wanted for a GBH that occurred last week…” I floored the accelerator and counted to five as the knackered out turbo vainly fought against the forces of gravity to try and haul the car forward (note to self, when accelerating from 5MPH in a hurry, change down from third gear).

I passed the miscreant and my colleague, pulled up and jumped out to join the chase. The suspect ran down an alley and we followed, my colleague keeping up a commentary. “Control, he’s going down Pickney Avenue, towards… oh no, it’s Sampson Community School.” Having learnt my lesson in the last foot chase about trying to sigh and run at the same time, I controlled my urge, but in my head I let out a long exasperated sigh.

Most coppers identify with teachers, as the poor buggers deal with our “clients” all day every day, whereas we get days seeing new suspects, hence why Mr Chalk is on my sidebar. However, every patch has an “anti” school – anti police, anti cars, anti parents, anti social services, anti rules… Not usually down to the teachers, but there is often an angry headteacher tucked away somewhere living her life vicariously through her young charges. As in this case. We had recently been told to ask permission from the head before going into the school, as our senior officers had received an ear bashing from her when police officers had taken a few moments of rest by chatting to the kids in the playground (and no doubt causing chaos whilst doing it).

I knew we were going to go into the school. And I was pretty sure the suspect wouldn’t stop so we could ask the headteacher’s permission. The suspect leapt the gates at the side of the school and my colleague balked at the challenge and ran to the front of the school. I like to destroy my uniform trousers every now and then as it means I can actually get a new pair, so I jumped/clambered after him. The suspect ran into the school grounds, and I took over the breathless commentary: “jumped the wall…running towards Tweedy Street Entrance…Male IC1…” I could hear two tones on the radio, mirrored in sound by two tones on the nearby streets, of units getting closer. My colleague headed off the suspect and the suspect turned directly into the school entrance.

Uh oh.

I squeezed what little stamina I had left and put everything into getting hold of him. Whilst chasing outside I had felt fairly confident, I knew the estate very well and there were units closing on us who would be there in minutes. Inside the school, with a violent suspect, and children… not a situation I wanted to be in.

The suspect turned into what turned out to be a classroom, followed closely by two slightly desperate coppers. He stopped, nowhere to go, my colleague had his asp out, “Stay there, don’t move, DON’T MOVE!” someone shouted. I realised it was me and I was holding down my transmit button on the radio still, my hand shaking.

That was because my hand had assessed the situation quicker than my brain could – I suddenly noticed a queue of young primary school children to my left lined up against the wall, either ending or starting a lesson. The suspect started to move, I was between him and the children, I didn’t know which one of us he was going for but wasn’t going to wait to find out. I pushed him back, radio still in my hand. He grabbed my wrist, tried to hit me and I fell on top of him.

What happened next is still slightly hazy. I continued barking (ignored) commands at the suspect, combined with shouting at the teacher to “get everyone out of here NOW!” My colleague was joining in, the suspect wasn’t in the mood to stop fighting.

You know the metal framed plastic chairs we all dread sitting on? You know the little dinky ones in primary schools? One of my lasting memories of that incident was seeing these chairs fly about the room as we scrabbled to keep the guy still and get him cuffed.

My other lasting memory? Thinking “this is a career killer” whilst still fighting.

Two other officers ran in, God alone knows how they found us, we cuffed the suspect and held him on the floor and tried to get our breath back. As we lay there, gasping for breath, in the middle of the chaos we had created in the classroom, the heroic head teacher entered. “I have an agreement with your borough commander you know, you are supposed to ask my permission before entering school grounds. I will be mentioning this.”

I know it was wrong. I really tried not to. But, lying on the floor, in the midst of upturned mini tables and chairs, with a line of engrossed children watching open mouthed, a suspect cuffed and wriggling and a colleague wiping blood from his nose, I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing directly at the head teacher - I actually had tears streaming down my face.

I was still giggling as the van pulled up and we loaded the suspect in. And when the lovely young teacher apologised for the head’s behaviour: “She’s been going through menopause for the last decade I think.”

And I even started again when the Inspector pulled me in to say that the head had complained about our conduct. My poor guvnor. I was trying to hold it in and snorting then bursting out laughing every few seconds. “Have you finished yet Area?”
“Yes sir.” (no)
“Are you sure?”
“Yes sir” (no)
“Ok then… she says here that you made a complete mess of the seating arrangement… Oh, pull yourself together for God’s sake Area…”
“Sorry sir” (I’m not)
“At least pretend to care about this”
Snort, snort, giggle, sorry guv, giggle giggle
“Oh bugger off Area, I don’t want to see an overtime state from this one." Long pause, whilst I try to keep a straight face and fail. “Thanks sir…snort…”

In fact, and I know this is sad, but I keep giggling as I'm writing this now.


(I'm not.)


Unknown said...

that was great, had me chortling. Job well done I think.

BelfastPeeler said...

If it makes it alright I'm smiling too - I have met EXACTLY her sort.

Plus I can picture the flurry of tiny chairs around the room as you struggle with the guy. And you wonder how the other callsigns found you!

Metcountymounty said...

it's memories like that and being able to look back and still laugh about it that make our job still worth doing, cracking post mate!!!

PC South West said...

I doubt the complaint would have got any further than the inspector at my nick, well most inspectors.
What a total joke! who does she think she is.
I thought it was a great job and was really positive until you said you were in front of the boss.
You should have got a good work report not asked why.

So here it is, blood good work fella, well done!!!

Down South said...

You know that the silly old bat has no right to stop police pursuing people through the school and that's all that matters.
Perhaps she can ask for police to ask permission when on general enquiries, that's fair enough but gawd she needs to get with the program! I think you were very restrained just laughing.

I think telling her to JOG ON might've slipped from my lips.


You know who! :)

Anonymous said...

well done "area", we've got that sort of "educator" on this side of the pond too. cops are "pigs" and worse until they're the ones getting mugged, then you can't get there fast enough for them. one sorry example they're setting for those kids they're supposed to be educating.

Anonymous said...

What a muppet that head mistress is...!

I was giggling too, I think it's how I'd have reacted too. Always when I'm supposed to be ultra serious I end up struggling not to giggle! I think the pressure gets to me! Lol

Thanks for the link :)

The music was Robert Miles & Children. Still love that now.
As for London, moving there is still the most exciting thing I've ever done. Fro a girl who grew up in a country village in doesn't get much more "cool" than that! Lol

RandomPinkness said...

Reading what you said about comments a few posts ago, and feeling the same way myself, I thought I would just take minute to say, you have had me in tears of laughter for a fair while over the past few days, I've even come back and reread posts. I've just put a whole host of police/paramedic blogs on my sidebar and in my feedreader, one of them being yours, keep up the good work :)

Area Trace No Search said...

random pinkness - thanks for the link,I will return the favour. Not out of a misplaced loyalty, but because your blog is exactly the kind of thing I like to read after a long and griefy late shift.

Something "non - job" in other words.

To all the posters pre random pinkness... yes, there are many things I could have and possible should have said. But I quite like my job, and keeping it is still attractive to me...

uphilldowndale said...

LOL, a lot.
It was her emasculated, 'I will be mentioning this' that finished me off.

Anonymous said...

What planet did you say the Head mistress lived on??? Hopefully the parents felt much differently??!!! Bless your hearts! Thank God it was "tiny chairs", instead of "tiny children"!!! I'm furious...

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