It’s been a while. A while since I found something to talk about. A while since I have had the time. It’s always about time. When we are young there is too much and when older not enough. We just can’t seem to get the balance.
Policing is much the same, it’s all about time. Sometimes we seem to have a lot; mainly when we are stood in the dark guarding a scene, at a road closure, waiting for back up when we are facing fear, or when we are waiting for that night shift to finish when we are down to the last half hour and the sun is up.
However, mainly with police clocks we are talking about the lack of time. How much time do we have to deal with a job before the next one takes us away? How much time do we have to get to our colleagues in need of assistance? How much time do we have on the clock to question that person suspected of harm? All questions that we go through on a daily basis and hope that the clock slows down. Breathe, time enough.
It used to be that when we joined we signed up for thirty years. That’s a lot of time to do this role. To face the fears we have to, see the things we wouldn’t choose to and do the things we sometimes wish we didn’t have to.
It is a choice that we make to spend around a third of our lifetime doing this role. It’s a choice we are happy to make. If we were not why would we? Would you? Could you? It is after all our choice and our time. No one forces us.
Over the past few years a lot of officers have ‘ done their time’ or sadly and cruelly had their time stopped by the limitations of their body or mind after facing injury or illness.
I have seen many colleagues come and go. More will follow, and in time so will I.
I have seen the pride they expressed regardless of how much time they gave and no matter how their clock was stopped. Some were sad, some angry and bitter, but deep down and if they were honest, all had a sense of achievement that they had belonged to a group of people who give their time to others often at the expense of themselves.
This goes too for our Support Staff without whom we often would be lost, stumble or fall. These men and women make a choice to work in our environment and often like us get to see and hear things that no one should.
They read and type the written words that form the statements of the victims and witnesses. They may not hear their voices through the written page but the words tell a story often of pain and anguish that they cannot help but to listen and to feel.
They transcribe our interview tapes of the people we are paid to protect society from. They listen to the words used and the allegations made while they write the story on the page. They cannot help but become emerged in this world of violence, fear and anger. Again, it is their choice but they take it all in their stride, do justice in the written and spoken word and play a major part in making the victims words come alive and the perpetrators lies or confessions heard.
The people who take the initial 999 calls and our front counter staff. They take the time to listen, guide and support when people are often at the lowest point in their lives and at the time of their greatest need. They are the first contact and their time is often the most important and must be used wisely and carefully.
Amongst the many retirements of late one stands out. Alma. Just Alma. She doesn’t need a second name her first is enough. Today she left us after 29 years of time given to helping others as first contact at Police Headquarters. She was there when I started and still there 18 years later. Time has been good to her as I don’t see her as looking a day older! She will be missed terribly as she is part of the fabric of many of our lives and a hard act to follow. Now she gets her time, with who she wants to share it with, but I’m pretty sure she will be back…it’s only a matter of time.
It is her leaving party this evening and as I write this I wish I had been able to give her my time. However, I am quite sure she will understand and insist that I am spending it with my family.
Time is precious and should be guarded fiercely and shared wisely. Our family is what keeps us doing what we do. It enables us to carry on in the worst of times and enjoy the best. They are there in the background supporting us, worrying about us and helping us with everyday matters which in turn helps us to give as much as our time as possible to the community we have chosen to keep safe.
However, there comes a time in everyone’s lives that we need to look after others. To be there for them as they have for us. Without our family we could not give as much as we do because we do what we do to make our community safer not just for our family but for everyone else’s.
Time is precious, take hold of it before it runs away and share it wisely when it is needed the most with those you hold dear.
As for Alma, thank you from your police family and all the members of the public that you have helped over the time that you chose to give, you will not be forgotten only cherished.