Chief Constable Simon Cole's blog - The strong but thin blue line
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In recent days there has been another debate about the “thin blue line”. This is a badge some police officers wear on their uniform. If you’ve not seen it, it is the Union Flag with a blue line drawn through it.
Firstly, we are very much part of the communities we serve. Secondly, we need to stand apart at times to protect people and do our duty.
Holding that line is tough.
I’m towards the end of my week on 24/7 call for the force. As ever, it allows me to see the massive commitment to local communities from our officers and staff. Sadly I’ve had to reach out to a number of colleagues this week who have been injured whilst trying to keep people safe.
It is a fact that a police officer gets assaulted every 20 minutes across the country (my officers are your officers).
In our area, whilst on a bed-watch for someone under the influence of substances, two of our PCs were assaulted. One, working only his sixth shift of duty since joining us, has mild concussion as a consequence. I was in our control room and heard two female colleagues being assaulted; one was kicked to the chest, the other bitten by a woman that they were arresting for racially aggravated public order offences.
I am proud of our diverse workforce. Racial abuse is never acceptable.
Last Sunday we dealt with an unlicensed music event in rural Pickworth, near the Lincolnshire border. Unbelievably someone thought it was a good idea to have hundreds of people together for a rave in the midst of the COVID crisis. The organisers clearly had little regard for public safety. Our duty Superintendent, supported by her teams, acted quickly and we seized the equipment and dispersed the event. One person jumped onto a police vehicle and urinated towards officers (your officers). He found himself in custody. Is this what my officers (your officers) should be doing during a dangerous pandemic?
Sadly, we also had a murder in the City over the weekend. My phone rang at 0330 in the morning with a briefing; its shrill tones dragging me out of deep sleep. I discussed next steps with our on-call Detective Superintendent as she headed out to the scene, trying not to wake her sleeping family up (I had failed to do the same with mine). My officers (your officers) supported the ambulance service as they battled to save a life. Paramedic colleagues are remarkable. They are, in essence, doing operating theatre-level work in the street. Some wear a badge with a thin green line.
For my officers (your officers) this isn’t easy. During their career each officer is likely to encounter between 400-600 traumatic events. Most citizens will experience between three or four in their lifetime. Our trauma debriefs are crucial for the wellbeing of our police officers.
The striking feature is that my team (your officers) keep on keeping on.
The morning briefing, in which daily tasks are assigned, crackles with energy and commitment. The homicide investigators, fuelled with coffee and pizza, strive for justice (we have charged a man for this weekend’s murder). The response teams deploy energetically time and time again to calls from the public. Our safeguarding teams wrap around the vulnerable. Our tireless call takers give support and help to thousands of members of the public. Our Special Constables volunteer thousands of hours to local communities.
The blue line may be thin but it is strong in Leicestershire – and it knows how to stretch!
All of this takes place during a pandemic. We work in PPE where it is needed. We support health colleagues as they battle, inside and outside of the protected area, to contain this invisible killer.
Your police officers are normal people who do incredible things. Drawn from our local communities, they are doing an excellent job at the most challenging of times.
The thin blue line is tough to be on. But it is our duty and we do it willingly. We have had over 1,000 applicants to join us over the last six months.
Please help us by treating my officers – your officers - as you would your neighbours and other people. We hold that thin blue line with your support.