Sunday 2 August 2009
One of the laws of Policing is that whenever you get a group of coppers with any experience together, especially if there is alchohol present, the war stories will start coming out.
Some of them are even true and not embellished with layer upon layer of fabrication.
A tendency at times like this, is to approach these stories slightly cautiously, especially if you don't know the group as well as you could.
A lot of the stories start with "This copper I once knew..."
This reminded me of a similar one - about a copper I used to work with, a grizzled old sweat who had been there, seen that, and done it all. With an almost superhuman ability to drink tea and coffee.
Although I have talked about my experiences with both vehicle pursuits and foot chases here and here, I also had one of my first ever foot chases with this guy.
Mark had been tasked to sit in a road that had newly been made a one way street, and stop and "advise" people that were ignoring this and roaring through anyway. It had previously been used as a cut through and after a few near misses the residents had understandably complained.
Filled with the kind of glee that only a thirty year copper can feel when tasked with a job like this, he collared me and brought me along to join in the excitement.
It was actually a great job - a lovely sunny day, no paperwork as we were 'advising,' not sticking people on. Sitting there in shirt sleeves, no vests, and being brought cold drinks by the residents - grateful that for once the Police had listened to their requests.
After about two hours, a little Peugeot turned into the road ignoring the no entry sign and barrelled towards us. I shuffled out from the cul-de-sac where we were parked up, and raised my hand. No response. And I was even wearing my hat. The cheek.
The car continued on its merry way, leaving nothing but a trail of exhaust smoke and the smell of a car that hadn't had its oil checked for some time.
I of course used my literally weeks of experience to leap into action, and so stood there, arm still outraised with my mouth doing a very good impression of a goldfish.
The area car thrummed alongside me, and Mark said "are we going after it, or are you hoping he's going to change his mind and come back?"
I snapped out of my little moment, and clambered in to the passengers seat. Mark hit the blues and I felt the surge as the kick down pushed us back in our seats.
"Shall I call it in?"
Mark had a grim look on his face: "Nope, he'll stop. He's not going to get away from us in that."
Sure enough, the car turned a quick right out of the road, and as we caught up and did the same it came to a sudden stop.
The driver, obviously a local with knowledge of the area, leapt out at a run and headed down an alleyway that ran along the back gardens of the houses.
I jumped out as well, as did Mark. I was positively shaking with the adrenalin and excitement, and held the radio in my hand like a sword of justice and truth.
Running up the path, I shouted some unintelligable nonsense into the radio about the foot chase. Mark later told me that he kindly translated for the control room so that they could understand what I was trying to say.
Whatever, I could hear units answer up and start to make their way, and even heard two tones in the distance. Other than that, all I was interested in was the suspect ahead.
This was before my night duty diet consisted purely of kebabs, so I felt pretty good about catching the suspect. Now it will depend purely on whether it is before or after I've eaten - I keep myself relatively fit and can still do the shield run in sub two minutes, but after a kebab I need time to adjust...
On this occasion, I hadn't eaten and was desperate to get this fella.
As we ran along the alleyway, a man came wondering out of a side turning further along, with a dog on a lead. Bald, with the traditional string vest tucked in beneath an impressive stomach. He didn't even factor into my thinking.
Not so for Mark. He took this opportunity to utilise a skill he picked up as a Sergeant in the army: a bellow so loud and deep that even in my blue funk, I heard it clearly. "Stop him! He's a rapist!"
String Vest didn't hesitate for second. With surprising agility, he swung and kicked the suspect in the shins, knocking him straight to the ground. Me and Mark ran up, and leapt on him to apply the cuffs.
"Thanks" I managed to pant out. String Vest didn't even break his stride and stepped over us struggling to get the cuffs on, quietly saying as he did so "You're doing a splendid job lads."