Monday, 16 June 2008

Didn't see that one coming

It's night duty, a few weeks after being signed off to patrol independently and I’m crewed with my team tutor and mentor who I shall refer to as W. Having a massive three and a half years service (anything more than a year was massive at the time) and having already served on a proactive surveillance team, he has my complete trust and respect. A couple of years older than me, quite a bit shorter, and considerably more ginger, he has no issues in fully utilising his officer safety instructor skills to gain the upper hand with everyone I have seen try to fight him (at least a dozen at that point, which was loads) Whilst tutoring me, he was always serious. He still answers any question I have sincerely, no matter how stupid or based on having been told complete lies. Like me, he's come from a Services family and had been aiming to join the Marines to follow his dad but chose the Police instead. Having worked with him for a few weeks since my last course at the training unit he is completely different, more relaxed, and more of himself than when he is in teaching mode.

We're skulking around one of our rougher estates looking for anyone to spin when the call comes through the radio “a unit to attend 40 South Street, call from a family member, drunk male attacking his wife” I later read through the incident message and the exact words the 17 year old caller used were “please help, he’s drunk again and punching my mum, I can’t stop him, please help”

It's after pub kicking out time and the roads are relatively empty so we get to the address in good time. As we are walking along the path up to the door, I can hear a man shouting and the sound of furniture being thrown about. W asks me to get an update to the control room and get a van running. The hall light isn’t on but I see the front door open as the caller comes out. He’s 17 and looks like any normal kid although he is upset that he can’t protect his mum from his dad. Apparently he’d got back from the pub drunk after watching the football, his team lost, so naturally, he took it out on her. Again.

The kid says he called us, he tried to stop him from hitting his mum but his dad just pushed and kicked him out of the room. As we walk into the house, W goes in first and tells me to get the kid out of the way. We go in and I see the stairs on the left of the long hall and I tell the kid to stay outside the room. I hear a woman sobbing from the front room off to our right, the door is ajar and I can see her sitting slumped on the floor, she’s hiding her face from him as he is standing over her screaming into her ear about something but I can’t make it out. W pushes the door open and we start to go into the room. The man doesn’t acknowledge us, he keeps his back to the door and just shouts “I told you to get OUT!!” The woman lifts her head up and looks at the door, her left eye is bleeding and is already starting to swell closed, her bottom lip is cut badly and blood is pouring down her chin, I can see the cuts on her legs, more than likely from where he was kicking her on the floor.

For a second she can’t understand what she is looking at, and then as she realises her face contorts in horror, this gets her husbands attention and he turns around to look at us. For a moment he is shocked and then angry and shouts at us “get the fuck out of my house, you’re trespassing” W says to him “I don’t think so pal, step away from her, you’re going to be coming with us” He shouts at us again to get out then sees his son behind me and screams at him “did you call them you little fuck? You’re done, I told you to keep your nose out you little bastard” I tell him that we could hear him down the street and neighbours called us but he ignores me and stares straight at W who has already got out his baton. As he racks it and starts moving into the room, I move to his left.

We’ve done a few takedowns together and as he took the time to practice with me and a couple of the other guys in the back yard I know W favours going in from our right side to control the left arm. W moves in and raises the baton, placing the tip on his right shoulder, he then shouts at the man “I said get away from her NOW” We get closer as the guy starts to turn fully square to us. He starts to drop his head and roll his shoulders forwards, as he starts to bring his hands up I know that he is about to move on us. W has stepped forward again, closing the reaction gap and I move with him. Just as the man launches forward and goes to grab him, W drops down low and strikes the guy as hard as he can across the left knee causing him to scream in agony and fall forwards. We both move in taking our respective arms, folding them up behind his back and we use his momentum to push him face first into the floor.

As we all hit the floor I hear the wife shouting “please don’t hurt him” I look up at her and can’t believe what I’m hearing, this man has just literally beaten her black and blue, probably scarring her for life given the state of her face. W shouts at me to get his arm round, he’s already managed to get a cuff on the left arm and he has it half way up his back, ready for me to get the right one in. As I try to pull his arm up he pulls against me screaming and swearing at us. He manages to pull his arm round enough to start to tuck it under his chest. The only thing I can do to control the arm is to punch out his bicep, causing it to deaden to give me enough control to turn his arm round in the socket allowing me to put a ‘goose neck’ lock on his wrist. Once I get the lock on I can then bring the hand back round behind his back and force it into the handcuff.

As I start to punch the arm the son shouts out “why are you punching him, you can’t do that” as he starts to walk towards us, W shouts at him to get back. I again punch the arm and get a good hit in but the only thing going through my mind is “what the hell is wrong with the people in this family?!?” As I lift the arm out I manage to turn it round, locking out the elbow and turning the wrist towards it giving me complete control of the arm, I then get the hand down and W pulls the wrist into the cuff. The guy is still screaming and swearing at us but I hear the diesel engine at top revs and I see the flashing blues in the window telling me the van crew has arrived. A second later I hear them bang through the front door and into the hall, shouting out to us to check we’re ok. As one of the guys puts his head round door, the son shouts at him that we’re beating his dad up and my colleague says to him “hang on a minute, didn’t you call us?”

The man hears this and goes ballistic, he screams out “ I fucking knew it you bastard, you called them” he starts thrashing around on the floor, trying to turn to W, biting out to try and get the nearest thing to him. W asks me if I’m ready to go, I change my leg position to get ready to stand up and as I do so W nods at me. With our arms locked around the guy’s arms and shoulders and with the help of adrenalin, we lift him up easily. As we start to move to the hall my colleague goes to the front door to hold it open and I see the son move further up the hallway into the house. At least he’s now out of the way. W starts to turn so he goes out through the door first, the hallway is narrow so we have to go sideways with the guy bent forwards. As we get into the hall the man is still screaming and swearing but he’s now started spitting, he tries to head butt W and kick his legs out, missing and falling forwards as his weight shifts. We fall against the stairs and I bang my head and I hear the son screaming now “what are you doing to my dad, get off him, you’re hurting him!”

I ignore the son and regain my footing, pushing the guy further forwards to keep his head down, at least that way he can’t see what he is kicking at or trying to head butt. W shouts at him to stop resisting but he’s still thrashing his legs around as we try to move him down the hall. We’re bouncing off the wall and the stairs as we get closer to the door, trying to shuffle through the hall with someone trying to kick out isn’t easy. By now we are both screaming at the guy to stop resisting and trying to kick us but we are nearly at the door so W starts to move out to his left, giving him space away from the guys legs to make it harder to kick out.

As W is right at he door I feel a huge impact at my right side, knocking me forwards. I realise that the son has just tried to jump on my back and as I turn to look at him, I lift up my head to see W let go of the dad and jump towards me. As I turn to my right I see the son with his right arm up in the air, moving towards the back of my head, W throws a punch straight towards me and before I can finish thinking ‘what the fu…’ I see his fist move past my face, striking the son straight in the mouth, causing him to fall to the floor. As the son collapses in a heap I see him drop the biggest Phillips head screwdriver I’ve ever seen.

This kid, who had called us to stop his dad from beating his mum up, has just tried to stab me in the neck with a screwdriver.

I started to fall on top of the dad as we were both completely off balance, W scrambled over both of us and jumped on the son, as my colleague holding the front door moved in to grab hold of the dad’s right arm. W pinned the son to the floor as we got the dad out and dragged him – still screaming – to the van, putting him into the cage. The van driver rushed in behind us to help W handcuff the son, who was then walked out and put into the back of our car while someone requests another van to take him. I'm stood next to the front gate of the house, my hands shaking from the adrenalin and the fact that I was just nearly stabbed, all I can picture is the screwdriver on the floor. W walks over to me and says “that was close. I didn’t see that one coming. Are you alright?”

I just look at him and say “I need a fucking brew”

Metcountymounty.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a good post; another classic MCM. Keep it up, the detail you put into your blog is second to none and makes for fascinating reading. Stay safe.

Fellow PC.

Frost said...

The son will grow up to be just like his old dad...another active member of Britain's criminal society.

baz said...

Hi MCM, from how you describe it, this kid was a victim himself. He was terrorised by his dad who dominated and bullied and abused the entire family.

He only threatened you when your boss dropped him in it with his dad when he said out loud the son had called the police in.

The kid's reaction was one of fear and trying to placate the monster f his father, who he knew would get him as soon as he was released a few hours later.

But when you posted a shortened version of this account elsewhere, you called he son a pr*ick

Was that just anger on your part?

TheBinarySurfer said...

Bet you learned from this one - never, ever turn your back on a family member even if they seem passive and meek!

I think anyone who's had to come between a family/couple fighting has learned this one tho: personally I have a nice scar where someone drove a 6 inch high heel several inches into my back after pulling her boyfriend off her (who was beating her to a pulp at the time with a glass bottle too!).

Also when people start on the "how many does it take for a domestic" lark again, this is precisely why you call for assistance - get enough bodies in there to control everyone to be on the safe side.

Metcountymounty said...

Baz, I've written it from how I felt at the time, I'm fully aware of the effects of domestic violence and what it can do to people, having seen other victims completely turn on us in the same circumstances, it's the main reason domestics can be so dangerous. I believe in the response on my other post I said the dad was a prick and that it must have run in the family, I hadn't actually thought about this incident for years so after reminding myself about it I thought I'd share it. I was pretty angry about it when it happened as anyone else would be, and even with the rationale of hindsight and experience I still think although understandable, his actions weren't excusable.

Frost - he did.

baz said...

Ever been on the receiving end of something like that yourself when you were a kid ?

If not, then you really have no idea of the terrible dilemma the child was in

Metcountymounty said...

Baz, thankfully not which is why can only empathise with the victims, but as I said, being understandable doesn't make the actions excusable.

Binary surfer - screaming harpies with 6 inch heels - thankfully I had body armour on when one stamped on my back outside a nightclub as there were 6 of us on the floor with someone she didn't even know but thought was a friends friend, and was therefore justified in trying to stamp a heel into my back.

Area Trace No Search said...

It's obviously more common than I thought - I also got a high heeled shoe point stabbed into my neck at a fight.

A fight between teenage school girls of all things.

Anonymous said...

brilliant post MCM

this is as close in writing as i have to come to that feeling of fear, satisfaction and frustration.

keep up the good work, just off for a busy night shift now....wish me luck

baz said...

Do you mean that you empathise or that you sympathise? From what you say you may have sympathy but you have no empathy.

it is beyond fear what that kid felt from his father.

Metcountymounty said...

sympathise, you're right, I got them the wrong way round. I completely understand where you are coming from though about his own rationale behind attacking me at the time (and the many many others who attack police officers in the same or similar circumstances) but it still doesn't excuse it.

If that were the case then there are lots of people who do attack others who we should just say "oh well, they had their own shit going on, so I guess we should just let them off because it's not their fault"

I don't think so.

baz said...

I agree. And with adults it is not excusable. But this was a child.

Metcountymounty said...

five or even ten years old yes, seventeen years old, not a chance.

baz said...

The law says otherwise

Metcountymounty said...

I think you'll find the age of criminal responsibility in the UK is ten years old, anything older than that and it's your own actions and your own consequences, regardless of your personal motivations or history. Just as an aside, the jury found him guilty of attempted GBH, so it wasn't just my opinion either.

Rogerborg said...

This isn't criticism, it's a question: why the rush to get him cuffed?

Since you knew that a van was on its way, and he'd stopped beating his wife, was it the best strategy to advance on him and force a physical confrontation immediately?

Allowing for you already being jumped up on adrenaline and White Knight Syndrome, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, is there anything that you do differently in the same situation today? Go in tazering / spraying, perhaps, or just stand off and try to talk him down while waiting for the cavalry?

Louise said...

Wow, an amazing post. And obviously a very difficult and emotional situation.

Yes the environment and emotional situaiton the 17 year old has grown up with make his reaction understandable but I agree that it is not excusable. We all need to take responisibilty for our actions.

I have things that have happened to me in the past, which have resulted in behaviour I am not proud of. I take responsibility for this behavour as I understood right from wrong despite the reasons behind it.

Metcountymounty said...

rogerborg - he's already proved to be a credible and violent threat, if we had just said "by the way we're here and we'll just wait outside until we get a couple of more blokes then we'll come in and get you" then quite frankly he could have just killed her, and the kid and himself. It's happened countless times before and it'll happen again, especially if someone knows they have an audience to play to. If you have a vulnerable and injured victim and an agitated suspect the only thing you can do is to neutralise the threat, and that is in getting him cuffed and in a van as quickly as possible.

At the point we went in he hadn't stopped beating his wife, it was only seeing us that distracted him. If someone is not only drunk but aggressive and violent then the only thing we can't do is stand by and watch while other people are in jeopardy. Spray was a tactical option we had at the time but not one either of us would use, simply because there are other injured people there, it's a confined space and the only two people we could guarantee it would work on was us. If someone is hyped on adrenalin/alcohol CS is crapper than the lottery.
Having had taser input and training it would be an option that I would seriously consider in the same circumstances but speed, surprise and overpowering someone can be just as effective, and until the public as a whole accept taser it can be the more media friendly way to deal with it, even if the possibility of injuring us and the suspect is much higher.

In hindsight, the only thing I would do differently (and did after this incident at every following domestic) is get everyone else possible outside the house to wait for the other units/paramedics to arrive.

Anonymous said...

To rogerbog and baz. I understand you are trying to bring well reasoned alternative points of view to this incident, the point is its only in this country that the actions of MCM and W are subject of debate. In Europe or the USA the level of force used by the police against the father would have been raised by a factor of 10 it would not have included a punch on the bicep to enable an arm lock to be used. The son wielding a screwdriver would probably be lying in a morgue having been shot and in these circumstances no one would even question the police response. It is because we use such a low level of force that officers are subject to such attacks.
It should be a simple altenative, behave and you have no problem, attack law enforcement officers or others in the emergency services then suffer the consequences, I can't see why any reasonable law abiding person could argue with that.

boobyc said...

Well said, Crims in this country know they can push their luck and they do, can u imagine what the outcome would have been in Texas or somewhere,

Happy Met Copper said...

Another well versed and presented post. One I think which links in well with your previous one about how many does it take to control a suspect.
Both posts raise good points about use of force and officer safety issues. As this post shows someones home is one of the most dangerous places that we can enter.
Not only are there countless different items in there that can be used as weapons (all of which are easily conceable and readily accesible by the occupier who knows instantly where they are) you can also find yourself in an extremely small space in which to control someone.
When you undertake public order training (as many of you may know) you have the violent man scenario, designed to simulate trying to control a violent person in a series of small rooms. Whislt a good workout the scenario is generally unrealsitic as the rooms are compeletely unfurnished. As an old Sergeant of mine, who used to be in the TSG and had actually done this for real on a number of times, told me you hit them once and then all fall over the nearest sofa leaving it in a big free for all.
Just out of interest did the Dad get anything on this occasion?

Anonymous said...

A superbly written and descriptive narrative which I regret I have been only too familiar with. In the circumstances mentioned I cannot see any action which I would have done differently. The main problem is that all critics have the benefit of hindsight which, as you will know, is an exact science (defence lawyers, especially, having a Master's degree in this subject). I tried for many years to explain to people that the only reason they can sleep soundly in their beds is because there are those like you who are willing to do what you do. Keep safe and keep blogging.
Plodnomore

Metcountymounty said...

HMC, the wife refused to give evidence but the CPS still ran with it given the half dozen or so previous convictions for serious violence and also a couple of assaults left on file against her. He knocked out 3 teeth and broke her jaw and cheek bone, got 3 years custodial for GBH after pleading guilty at Crown. The son was convicted of attempted GBH and got just over a year in a young offenders institute but I'm pretty sure he appealed and had it reduced as it was his first indictable but I don't know what the appeal sentence was.

baz said...

you didn't mention all this in your original post

Metcountymounty said...

As I said already Baz, I wrote the post as I experienced it and how I felt at the time of the incident.

We had no information about anyone at the address before we went in and we dealt with it in exactly the same way as any other incident - on how we find it at the time, on what little information we have and on how those at the scene act when we get there.

Anonymous said...

It's a while since I read "Wasting Police Time", but I'm sure he wrote about someone who was going to stab him with a screw driver. Or was that you on his blog? Common weapon it would appear!

After a truly mental female had seriously threatened and then attempted to kill me, by sticking broken glass in my face....I was reduced to a nervous wreck. All I wanted was a brew! [and a splif! - yes I know, very naughty - but it calmed me down.] So I do know how you feel about that incident.

I wasn't in uniform and was undercover to do a vital job of undermining and bringing down a very evil and dangerous bastard - for the good of all. I never could get my head around the fact that the stupid and jealous people did their very best to make my life as difficult and as unpleasant as they could. As the Saying goes, there's nowt so queer as folk. Peace and Love X
Ve

baz said...

So what you're saying is that these days you wouldn't go in so heavy handed from the start?

Sage said...

The ties of family is strong and at 17 he isn't mature enough to take responsibility for the actions of his father.. just glad you are safe and I hope, that his mum and dad can work things out without a reoccurrence of this days events.

Metcountymounty said...

Baz, are you actually reading the comments? I've already said the only thing I would do (and still do) differently in the same circumstances is get everyone I can out of the house. If you think two on one on an aggressive hyped up violent drunk man with one baton strike and a couple of punches to the arm is heavy handed then I would suggest that you're in need of a reality check. If anything I don't think we should have even given him the opportunity to actually look round at us and just jumped him instead.

In every other country in the world (apart from New Zealand where they are also routinely unarmed) the officers would have been going in with firearms drawn and there is every likelihood someone would have got shot, if not the bloke then possibly the kid with the screwdriver.

I would love to have been able to walk into the room, wave my hand slowly and mystically say "you will walk out of the house calmly and sit in the cage of our van..." but funnily enough that doesn't happen.

Laying off with a vulnerable victim who you are unable to secure isn't an option as knowing you're there to nick them can escalate the situation even further (leading to a hostage situation or a murder/suicide) so the only thing you can do is to get in as quickly as possible with the resources available and deal with the situation.

boobyc said...

I really don't understand how on earth our actions these days are heavy handed, its a sad reality that we have to use physical force against people, and it really gets on my nerves that I am afraid of doing my job in case I get sued, sacked e.t.c, because some SOB can't behave like a human being.

Anonymous said...

BAZ
If you keep a keen eye on the news, you will see that teenagers/youths are more than capable of killing people(normally with a bladed article of some description) I have had many incidents in 8yrs of service where I have faced offenders with weapons. I have been at many domestics where the whole house turns against you. I have been nearly stabbed by a 15yr old with a kitchen knife, who I have been a second away from using deadly force on. Thats right, a mere second away from hitting a 15yr old boy as hard as I can with a steel baton across his head because I genuinely felt my life was in danger.If I am to listen to your expert opinion, I should have placed myself in a position whereby hopefully, the blade would have struck my stab (resistant) vest and then gave him some "there, there " cream and told him is a victim of circumstance. As a response officer and defensive tactics trainer I must tell you that although we have a conflict management model which lists the reasonable escalation/descalation of force against the subject, that model can be entered at any point subject of an officers dynamic risk assessment.God forbid, if you are ever getting robbed/raped/stabbed that when the officers get to you they stand talking nicley to the offender before taking him/her out and SAVING YOUR LIFE.
For your information, I called the lad who nearly killed me something rather more than a "prick".

nightjack said...

MCM
Class piece of writing. It felt like I was there with you.
NJ

Metcountymounty said...

clicked that stupid wrong button again - I believe Baz wrote as it was anon -

Metcounty, not just my opinion but Rogerborgs as well.

All I can say to that is that clearly neither of you have been in a violent or life threatening confrontational situation before where you weren't part of the original incident (given Baz's early suggestions that he had) and you most definately don't have to deal with the threat everyday you go to work.

To be honest you can have your opinion on the matter, but it still doesn't change the fact that in the kind of situations that we face (especially domestics) if you go in all huggy and trying to understand the problem without dealing with the immediate threat as quickly as possible then someone is going to end up in a world of hurt and the chances are it would be you.

If you're happy with that then crack on with my best wishes, but I didn't join this job to die just because some drunk prick, his wife or their kids have issues and a bunch of do-gooders think we shouldn't be using force to bring the situation to a close quickly.

I said in another response on one of the earlier posts - try getting someone you don't know, to do something they don't want to do, in a situation that will either cause them some form of detriment or at the least lose face, and then have that person hate you just by turning up and before you even open your mouth.

If you can solve that with your magic huggy wand then please feel free to evidence it by proving at least 90% reliability, and then train us in your mystical Jedi mind skills, because in the real world it doesn't happen as easily as you clearly think it does or should.

baz said...

You're being very presumptuous metcountymounty.

never been in a violent or life threatening situation?

You have no idea. Really you don't. Believe me you don't.

But really you do seem to be very aggressive with people who have a different view on things than you do.

Metcountymounty said...

READ THE COMMENTS

"clearly neither of you have been in a violent or life threatening confrontational situation before where you weren't part of the original incident"

Ever walked into someone else's house uninvited to sort a domestic out where you were not related or involved with any person there? or any other violent confrontation where you don't know anyone else for that matter?

If so then how did you deal with it without putting anyone at risk or using any form of force? I'd love to know if there is some magical way of dealing with them, it would make my job infinitely easier. However with the training after the combined experience of over a million years of policing (as in the combined service of every copper who has worked in the UK since 1829) I seriously doubt that there is as we would already know it by now.

If not then you only have an opinion based on experience that doesn't relate directly to the subject and that opinion is biased against any form of action that goes against your own experience or views, hence the heavy handed comment.

baz said...

"Ever walked into someone else's house uninvited to sort a domestic out where you were not related or involved with any person there? or any other violent confrontation where you don't know anyone else for that matter?"

Ever faced a TRULY violent situation without body armour, steel batons, CS gas and half a dozen mates behind you and more on call just minutes away?

I don't think so.

And yes, I do think you are heavy handed. Your capitalised shouting in the face of gentle questioning was intolerant, belligerent and highly touchy.

Not the sort of attitude you think would be appropriate in your job I would have thought.

Metcountymounty said...

Baz, re your question the answer is yes, in my life , outside of work 4 times. I am well aware of how terrifying it is waking up in hospital and realising you might have lost an eye or have a fractured skull and then checking you still have all your fingers and toes and I'll be damned if I'm ever going to let anyone else put me - or anyone else I can prevent - in that position again. If that means being accused of being heavy handed when protecting myself or anyone else I'm required to, when someone else thinks we shouldn't, then so be it. If it comes to it I'll take my chances with a jury instead of the coroners slab thanks very much.

As for your point on belligerent intolerance, to be fair you didn't read what I actually wrote and only read what you wanted to read.

I'm in a job where we all put ourselves into life threatening situations and it does get on my tits when people who have no knowledge of whats gone on or never experienced it, then feel the need to criticise and offer suggestions on ways of working that they have no clue on how to put in practice or even if they will actually work when faced with an unbriefed opponent or suspect.

We do things in a certain way or for a certain reason with a specific objective, whether you accept that reason or not is up to you. It doesn't negate the fact that every incident has been replayed and relived a thousand times before and lessons have been learned. The best result is everyone lives, if some people get upset in the process, then so what? It's better than the alternative of informing someone that they aren't going to see a family member or loved one ever again.

Anyway, you never answered my question. Have you ever tried to resolve a situation - either a domestic or otherwise - when you didn't know what has happened or know anyone there?

baz said...

Metcounty as you say , those frightening experiences of yours have changed your attitude to situations you routinely come across in your job.

And I agree attack is the best form of defence. Has it really made you that unwilling to take any chances at all. To strike first and ask questions later. Has this got you into any hassle at work.?

And in answer to your last question, yes, yes I have.

Metcountymounty said...

Baz, I am well aware of when I can use force if necessary and obviously not all situations require it, the vast majority in fact. It's not a case of striking first and asking questions later, it's a case of knowing when you are not legally required to ask questions and have enough justification to use force as to do otherwise could likely result in harm to someone else or yourself and knowing you can justify that evidence in a statement to a court.

I do know exactly when and where escalation can be used and the legal basis for it and I will use as much as I need to if that is the case. If the situation demands that force is required in order to resolve or prevent further escalation then so be it, it's a tool in the box, just as much as sympathy and compassion. Both ends of the scale can be right in some circumstances and wrong or even dangerous in others.

When the situation requires it - just like every one of my colleagues - there is no point messing about and I don't when I have to. It's not often that we have to use higher levels of force more than sweeps, strikes or locks. I don't know a front line Police officer that doesn't get complaints, even the mildest mannered ones, but I've never had a complaint upheld and never been disciplined for a use of force, I've defended accusations from defence solicitors in court that after my evidence, were dismissed by the judges.

baz said...

Metcounty, you still seem to be saying that inthe heat of the moment that you can sit back chess player like and decide bout escalation of force and reasonable levels of violence the rest.

It really is impossible to be as clinical and as dispassionate as you claim to be in these situations.

As we both know.

Police , like other professions to be fair, stick together.

In the Menezes case the independent civilian eyewitnesses, the CCTV that was originally not available and all the rest gave lie to the claim that no heavy handedness took place there.

Stick together though and give the same account and no one individual officer gets into trouble.

Same principle holds true for Saturday night patrols in the Town and domestics too I suppose.

Metcountymounty said...

Baz, I'm not going to go into depth about the De Menezes case, quite simply because I wasn't there and I doubt you were either. There is a phenomenal amount of research regarding the area of perceptual distortions, especially around shootings as studied in the US. Having experienced loss of hearing, tunnel vision, time distortion and loss of depth perception in incidents I know that what you remember is not always what happened, sometimes to your benefit, others against.

Also with regard to the witness statements, one person said they heard a shot once a second which is a ridiculously long time during a shoot. Now either they were making it up, had perceptual distortion themselves or were talking bollocks considering you can empty a 13 round magazine from a pistol inside of 2 seconds. Who is to say the officers or the witnesses are lying?

Psychological and physiological evidence from high stress incidents is only just starting to be used in courts over here which is one of the main reasons that the public and solicitors automatically assume that if 3 officers say one thing and 3 non connected members of the public say another then the officers are deliberately lying.

Now back to your comment, I have not at any point said that in a fast time stressful or violent incident that you have the luxury of sitting back and considering options. After you asked if it is right to strike first and ask questions later, I said that in some circumstances there is no requirement to stand there and ask questions. What I said was that if the incident happens and you act on it, as long as you can justify your actions as they happened then you are covered legally. There is nothing in law that says you have to be hit first to be able to defend yourself, nor does it say that you have to be invited into an incident in order to defend someone else.

Having done this job a bit longer than two minutes I've been in more than one or two incidents, and recognising how an incident is about to develop is a learned skill, and recognising those signs DO give you that extra split second to decide on a course of action. Sometimes you get longer and can actually plan what you are going to do, others you have no more time than to realise it's all gone pear shaped and that you just have to act and deal with the consequences later.

You accused my actions of being heavy handed in the circumstances and then went on to say that in the circumstances you simply don't have time to sit back and decide. Someone who wasn't there sitting down in a room and deciding on someones actions with ALL the information to hand when at the time the person had no info, is obviously going to come up with a different solution, especially if they have never actually been in a fight or violent situation before.

It doesn't make the actions taken at the time wrong, it does however mean that someone labelled 'an expert' is usually called in to explain that "yes indeed I considered those actions reasonable because...." as normal layman who have never experienced so much as an adrenalin rush, let alone someone trying to stab them in the neck, have no idea what that feels like (emotionally and physically) or what they would even be likely to do in the same situation.

Anonymous said...

Heavy handed ?

As a MOP, I don't think the police, when arresting a criminal in the course of being violent, should fight fair as in Marquess of Queensbury, no low blows, may the best man win. I want the police to win, quick and clean, and if the arrestee sustains some injuries, that's something I'm prepared to put up with.

As regards the kid with the screwdriver, it's simple - threaten my life and I destroy the threat. If I injure you doing it, tough. It does not matter why you threaten me - as soon as you raise a weapon you have put yourself outside my consideration.

Robbo

Anonymous said...

I just want to add to this debate, that incidents of violence against one, can have a very damaging effect upon the nervous system. The incident I mentioned, regarding the threat to kill and then an attempt with a broken glass, really shook me up for a long time, because it jogged buried memories of serious abuse as a child.
A splif ot two did calm me down and help me over it. That was a long time ago and I wouldn't touch the rubbish that is around now.
Ve

baz said...

MCM, you raised quite a few interesting points.

Not wishing to dwell too much on the first, about 37 or so independant civilian witnesses all stated that the police ddi not shout any warining to Menezes but the police all said differently.

Perceptual distortions?

Anyway, not to be side tracked, I still think that people such as the police, who are routinely involved in violent confrontations become inured to it and build up conditioned reflexes. This is human nature.

You say that you got beaten to a pulp 4 times outside of work and awoke terrified in hospital. Don't you think it is possible that this extraordinarily unlikely happening for most people, might have been because the conditioned reflexes for dealing with people that you acquired on the job, got you into enormous trouble in social situations when you had no weapons, body armour or backup?

This lead then to a catch 22 situation where your repeated off-duty experiences of being beaten up led you to be less tolerant back on duty and round and round it goes.

Police are people and the job changes them. Makes them intolerant and judgemental. To the detriment of all concerned. Including the police themselves.

Perhaps time on the street should be limited to fixed durations. a few years on the street and then compulsorily moved onto something else?

Metcountymounty said...

Baz, like I said, neither of us were on that train so I'm not going to go into it, I've seen jobs where 50 people have all said they saw and heard different things.

You asked if I'd ever faced a truly violent situation outside of work and I said 4, let me clarify. I was attacked and hospitalised once and that was the first one having been attacked from behind when I was 17 by 3 blokes in a taxi queue who mistook me for an ex-mate, quite a few years before I joined, that in itself was an extremely pivotal incident in my youth and I learned from it. The others were after I had joined, two were drunks who actually recognised me as a copper and tried it on when I was alone and sober, they lost and one was some wanker who thought it would be a good idea to rob me. not good for him.

As I said, I have no intention of ever letting anyone put me or anyone else I can prevent in hospital if I can do something about it. Force is only required at a very small fraction of the number of jobs that I/we attend and I am certainly not going to put anyone at risk by second guessing myself at the time and neither will anyone else. We'll be criticised if we get it right or wrong anyway so we'll just carry on and deal with it. If other people don't like it then tough.

And another question, how on earth do you propose to be tolerant with someone trying to stab you, which was the whole point of the post and your allegation of heavy handedness?? As far as I am concerned, the second they choose to use force or a weapon on me or anyone else, they have made their choice and have to deal with the consequences regardless of their motivations or history and I'll deal with it in exactly the same way regardless of whether they are 15 or 50, male or female. A weapon is a weapon and it will still cause you a world of hurt whether the user is distraught or drunk, scared or psychotic.

Policing does make us cynical and un-trusting of many people, simply because 90% of the people we deal with are nothing but lying thieving oxygen wasting shit but I firmly believe that it makes us more effective at what we do because we learn from and deal with them every single day.

Your suggestion of only serving a fixed tenure as it were is again completely unworkable. Firstly because those of us who still work in a front line role do so because we want to, there are so many avenues of escape it's unreal, but we joined to Police and that is what Policing is, dealing with people, not sitting in an office.

Only around 10-15% of all police officers actually work in front line roles anyway, the ones in offices do so to get away from all the shit we have to deal with either through promotion or simply because they don't want to deal with it any more. The public complain (quite rightly) that we don't get to enough calls as it is, there simply aren't enough front line police officers left to rotate them in and out of office jobs. The other problem with that is being in an office you lose touch, which presents and element of danger as we recently found out having had someone posted to us who been off in an office for years. They were in no uncertain terms a complete and utter liability because they had no clue about what was going on or how to deal with it, and rotating in and out constantly would increase danger to everyone, especially the public.

Terry said...

you lot deserve a medal for what you have to put up with, that the likes of us middle classes never tend to see

Metcountymounty said...

Terry, no one joins the Police to get rich, get recognition or receive medals, but some acknowledgement that there are many nasty things that we do deal with that people will never see or know about is most appreciated, thank you.

baz said...

You sound like a guy in his thirties. I get the feeling too that Police Work wasn't the first job you did either, was it?

If this is true, then what made you change and tae al this crap for a living?

Metcountymounty said...

Baz, Yes I am. I was working as lifeguard immediately before I joined and I've had a few jobs before that. I've already explained on another post in detail but basically I went for a ride-along that my mate arranged and got hooked after being out for a nightshift. For all the crap that we deal with the good stuff is what makes it worth doing. I love dealing with proper victims and love catching proper criminals, the odds are massively stacked against us and there is a phenomenal amount of bollocks from the government to deal with, but it's worth it and I know for a fact there are some people walking around today who wouldn't if it weren't for my actions and that is why I and everyone I work with still do it.

baz said...

people walking around because of you?

What, criminals?

What do you mean?

Metcountymounty said...

people who aren't dead.....

Caroline said...

I recently discovered your blog and am reading back so forgive the late comment. I practically had my eyes falling out of my head when I saw that people questioned what you did. You dealt with a situation as fast as possible and with an eye to protecting yourself and everyone else - Maybe it's a female response but it just makes me think what all your loved ones must go through when you go out on shift - I think we should be thankful people like you are prepared to keep the job - and your writing is fantastic, keep it up