Tanja swings the Astra patrol car into the driveway. “Ah great” she remarks, “The family are here. We can get on with this”. She’s careful how she opens the drivers door. She doesn’t want the family to see her hit their car parked next to her. That would not get them off on the right footing. Tanja’s crew mate Jo jumps out of his seat and is already on his way over to a woman in her mid 40’s who’s standing on the front door step. Her 18 year old daughter is looking bored next to her. It’s 9.30 on a cold boxing night, and the first thing Tanja notices is the nervousness on the mother’s face.
What is it which makes policing so different to other occupations? What makes that something which runs through your veins and sends excitement through every pore when it’s most unexpected. It’s the feeling of wondering into the dark on your own with just your wits and your uniform as your primary protection shield. It’s the fact that you are one tiny part of a huge support network that will come rushing to your aid when called for, and that support is something that not only you know, but they out there know.
The heater is on, that annoying hum where you adjust the compromise of noise to the correct delivery of heat. Just enough to keep you warm but not too much to make you over sleepy. My Police partner Chris is driver today. He and I haven’t said anything for a couple of minutes as the fatigue is setting in quite strongly now at 5.30 on this otherwise relatively quiet end to the night shift. The dull glow from the Police dashboard display buttons illuminated, waiting to be pushed into life and throw their red and blue lights around the countryside surrounding the car. Every push means a new emergency, means someone is in need of help, and they hope it will come soon.
I’ve been on many a multi storey car park and on many a high bridge, talking to the lost souls who have ran out of ideas and need to end it all. I have made a bond with most, and have held their hand as they step gingerly back over the rail, and I have seen one fall after making that bond. I have heard the sound as the body impact below. I have felt the guilt that I failed. I have been in that home with a crying mother and a wrecked home, by a tenager she can no longer control, and I see the demons which possess the mind of that so innocent child, and I run out of ideas as to what to say to her.