Saturday, 29 March 2014


The Guardian: Police officer Mike Baillon smashed pensioners car window

Most police journalism is painfully tendentious however this piece by Vikram Dodd is relatively balanced and transparent. Incidentally, I enjoyed the two spelling mistakes in the link: "penshioner" and the officer's name.

It's no surprise to me that this officer was treated with contempt by his managers. When my colleagues have taken time off for injuries on duty, their inspectors have taken no interest in their convalescence. On the contrary they usually attempt to force a premature return to work by threatening disciplinary action.

Making armchair criticisms of this officer's actions is the easiest thing in the world. But what qualifies people to give their views? Police officers start work each day not knowing what will happen during the shift, except for the likelihood of facing confrontation and violence. Who, apart from the military and police, is qualified to pronounce on the split-second decisions that constables make every day under great pressure?

I broke a windscreen once, in order to save a colleague's life. She and I were with a woman regularly beaten by her husband. While I was writing the victim's statement the guy arrived in his car so we went to outside with the intention of arresting him. I asked him out of the car but it was clear he had no intention of cooperating.

“Fuck off and keep your pig noses out of our business!”

He was known for assaulting police and carrying weapons so I watched him very carefully and called for back-up. He grit his teeth and would probably have punched me, had he been outside the car. He then put it into reverse gear, clearly intending to drive away.

At that moment I realised my colleague was standing directly behind the car. I drew my baton and slammed it into the windscreen, creating a web of cracks. This gave him pause - he climbed out and screamed threats at me. I wrestled him to the ground and put handcuffs on, then arrested him for a string of domestic assaults.

If I hadn't made that split-second decision to smash his windscreen he would have reversed over my colleague. It was a scary situation and I don't regret my decision for one second.

Police officers only do such things when absolutely necessary. Each of us knows that any action or inaction can can result in dismissal, public infamy and a criminal court case.

We know all this but are still prepared to do the job. The ultimate armchair critics – the media – ought perhaps to show a little appreciation from time to time?

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- Justice and Chaos