'Putting on a uniform doesn't take away our thoughts and feelings'
One policeman posted this highly personal account on Facebook
So here goes, if you haven't seen the recent Twitter/news/Nolan Show coverage about the PSNI you've either been on a far away holiday or don't have a TV, radio or any access to social media.
Now, I'm not going to start commenting on the whole Twitter thing, that's all been well covered by people smarter and more articulate than I will ever be. However, one thing did bother me on Tuesday morning whilst listening to Stephen Nolan (I do love a bit of Nolan). That one thing was a comment by a caller, Steven, that the men and women who joined the police knew what they are getting into and should suck it up and stop their whinging.
Okay, so where to start, I am a LPT officer, maybe more commonly known as a response officer, one of those guys who bounce from call to call trying to fit in paperwork, phone calls, emails and enquiries inbetween. I've been doing this gig for a few years now, but not as much as many out there.
I, like many of my colleagues, joined this job to make a difference, to do a role which I feel is a positive contribution to society, but basically, to cut through all those buzz words, in a nutshell, I, we, joined to help people. What that help is can vary greatly from person to person, but we try our best.
Like the majority joining the police, my knowledge of what I was getting into was limited. Of course I knew I'd be dealing with assaults, arresting people, traffic collisions etc. Don't get me wrong, pursuits and busting drug dealers hold their appeal ,but I also knew I wasn't going into a real life Lethal Weapon, but joining a professional and accountable profession and be in a position where I may have to make decisions that can affect people's lives.
Now Steven, I, like my colleagues, am not that naive not to realise that when we joined this job that parts of it was going to include what many would consider the horrors of life. It didn't take long before having to witness a family fall apart as their teenage daughter was receiving CPR after hanging herself, and a wife scrambling to get to her husband in a smashed up car who's already dead. I've been to houses where women have been raped and where children have been abused, and more than once have had to change out of a bloodstained uniform mid shift after dealing with a bad assault or a person that had been knocked down and lay dying as we tried to stop the flow of blood. I've watched as colleagues have returned from a cot death keeping a brave face but needing to take that little bit of time to themselves with a cup of tea before continuing on, because the calls don't stop and the next person looking us, through no fault of their own, doesn't think of what we've just come from.
Maybe I have been fortunate. I've worked with good people, Sergeants and Inspectors that have asked if I am okay, if I need to speak to anyone after dealing with something that could be particularly affecting. I've had good sections that will rally round, especially if they think that he or she is getting it "tight".
Yes, we've been trained for certain events, incidents, call them what you may, but talking to that role player or doing that course does not prepare you for the reality of some of what we have to deal with. People have left because of it and many have "that call" that stays with them whether they talk about it or not. To ask for more help, to feel under pressure at times, or that things are just getting too much and being affected by what we do is not whinging, it's human. Putting on a uniform does not take away our thoughts or feelings, does not stop us from relating to people and their pain, does not stop us from going home and looking at our children and thinking 'what if', or 'how could someone'.
We do accept that this is our job, and during the course of doing our job we HAVE to deal with some unpleasant situations, because that is what we do. Nobody truly knows or can anticipate how that situation will affect them until put in that position. It's a risk we are aware of but not something that Mr Nolan's caller should pass off in such a dismissive way when it does affect some of us.
In the end, we are just like you, we are not flawless, we are not emotionless and at times some of us may need help too. What job someone does should not matter.