The Cold Light of Reality

Yesterday was horrific.

I would love to be able to cleanse the demons by spilling all the dark thoughts and all the feelings that linger still out onto the page, but due to the nature of the jobs involved – I can’t.  Not because of any legal issue or to protect the investigation.  Simply because many of those who read this blog and (unknowingly) work alongside me would easily spot any attempt to conceal the facts with poetic licence and literary makeup. I have no option but to resist the urge to share the pain of the last 24 hours and await a time when the memories have faded to recount things in hope of closure.

As I lay on my pillow last night, waiting for exhaustion to finally win the battle with my perpetually spinning brain, I have to admit I wondered whether it was actually worth doing this job any more. Day after day, week after week and year after year we put on that uniform and go out into a world that has a fraction of the respect that used to exist, trying to fix more things than ever with a fraction of the resources, and dealing with – for the most part – the ungrateful and the unstable in our society rather than relentlessly hounding the criminals like we should be.

And for what…

I have listened to people’s last words, to the screams of my colleagues – fighting for their lives on the other end of a radio, I have held the hands of the dying and followed the coffins of friends. How much of this should any of us have to experience in one lifetime?

I have worked on for hours, getting the job done when others have gone home, my family have suffered my absence a hundred times. I have done this only to be berated for the smallest omission by those who micromanage under the bright glare of hindsight.

When all the pieces fall into place we can make a difference for a while. A month…a week…a day…maybe only a few hours – but it’s a difference. Those successes are what keep us going but they are getting harder to find all the time and the warm feeling of satisfaction fades faster now chilled by the cold light of reality and the knowledge that even the best placed twig won’t make a dam against the torrent of modern criminality.

It was light outside by the time I finally drifted off this morning only to be woken by my phone a couple of hours later. The call was short – an apology followed by a shift change notification. I should be getting ready now, but I just don’t know if I want to. I know, deep down that I will, and come five o’clock I will be back behind the wheel, ready to face it all again – because that’s what we do.

Thankfully these days are rare – usually I just roll with the punches and drown the fatigue in coffee but today is one of those days and it’s going to be hard to shake off the excess weight. I feel that putting this into words has helped a little. It’s not what I wanted to write, and I apologise for the morbid tone of the post, but there’s no point pretending everything is peachy. Burying problems only lets them put down roots and pretty soon you’ve got a whole damn tree to chop at.

Anyway, I will catch you all later…I guess it’s time to get ready.

About MinimumCover

UK Police Officer and Blogger View all posts by MinimumCover

17 responses to “The Cold Light of Reality

  • OLA

    Excellently worded. Stay safe mate.

  • Anonymous

    stay safe and remember there ARE members of the public who DO have the highest regard and respect for you and your colleagues!!!!! Unsung heroes,but like a lot of the services now…..forgotten and unappreciated by many :-(((

  • Kelly Ann

    For sharing this and for doing what you do every day, thank you. Keep safe.

  • Anonymous

    Dry your eyes rainy face, grab a handful from the man up bowl and get on with it. Stay safe

  • Chris Hall

    Chin up fella, we all have days like these and saying that doesn’t make it easier for you but some of us have been there and felt the despair too. Remember that for every scumbag and twonk who hate you out there, there are many, many, members of the public that value all you do. They are unaware of the sacrifice and personal cost to you but your blog goes a long way to alleviate that. Keep writing and putting your thoughts out there and the message will get through.

    Stay safe and do your best that is all you can do and we appreciate it.

  • Nigel Tompsett (@PolicePensions)

    Wow…..a truly moving post, and one all of us in the job can relate to.

    Thanks for sharing that MC ~ just hope by doing so, it will help even a little.

    Keep going fella ~ it WILL be with it in the end; you WILL make a difference.

  • Blackrat

    It’s hard somedays I know, I think all of us will hold our hands up and say we have all had days like that, wondering why we do it when so many berate us and scorn us.
    Focus on all the good things, the people you have helped, the good days. That’s what helps me get through the bad ones.
    We unfortunately meet a lot of “bad” people. Generally we don’t see all the good people out there until they genuinely really need us, and it’s those that make it worth it.
    Chin up, it will get better x

  • steve wynn

    This job is just smoke and mirrors. A constant game of life and livelihood. Sometimes we’re up. Sometimes we’re down.

  • Anon

    If only the public knew what it was really like, and how some shifts I don’t understand how it’s not all just fallen to shit. Probably because every job we go to ends up getting resulted “no offences” no matter what actually went on.

    • Blackrat

      I hope that doesn’t happen. If you are resulting every incident as “no offences” “regardless of what goes on” You (or whoever) are doing something seriously wrong!

      • Anon

        It does, and every single minute of every day. If the media really knew what was going on, most Police forces around the country would be axed! The powers that be would argue they never knew this malpractice was going on, but they all know, infact they allow and promote it. Performance Targets, risk of civil litigation, falsifying records, discarding evidence, etc. I am not resulting jobs like this, but I am sick to death of the people that do. I know we have so few staff on it’s criminal (pun intended), but the more we cut corners, the more staff they’ll take off us until one day it’ll all go tits up.

        How are we short staffed when we keep hitting our self-monitored and internally verified targets?

        An IPCC inquiry will come about, as to why someone was seriously injured or killed, but by then the senior officers for the force under the spotlight will have doctored everything to make it look like a one off. These are the new habits we are teaching new recruits. Mark my words, we are heading for a massive Police overhaul in the next 10 years or so – think of it as a new PACE 1984.

        • Black Rat

          I think that is a huge assumption, clearly there has been some form of bad experience for you to make that sweeping gesture, but for those of us that work very hard to do everything correctly and NOT cut corners its a fairly large insult.

          Since staff cuts and issues with government (MAY) We deliberately go to the nth degree with our investigations from the moment we get deployed, and unless it is an emergency will not turn out for the next job until that one is completed as much as can be during that special golden hour. We know that we are providing the absolute best service possible to the members of the public we can get to. Obviously if there is a grade 1 we stop and go to those. If there are other non emergency jobs outstanding that we cannot get to as quickly as possible and there are complaints from mop’s we encourage them to complain to their MP.
          If EVERYONE did this there it might make a small indent into realising we need the staff, both frontline and admin alike. (Although I am sure it will not make a difference in the long run) MAY has it out for us – maybe she had a bad experience with a copper that cut corners?

          Everyone needs to stay switched on to it and remember why we joined, if we know WE are giving the best possible service to our mop’s then I have done a good days work. There shouldn’t be any issues of serious injury, as always it is down to us to risk assess.
          I have no doubt there will be more changes, they will have to.
          I’m still miffed that I will be working a further 11 years on top of my 30, which i’ll be paying more for and getting less for, then I’m sure by the time I retire it will be time to pop my clog. I think their idea of 60 yr old coppers chasing youngsters around is diluded. Not to mention the fair number of years that there will be no retirements and no new recruitment…they havn’t really thought that through…but thats another story and another whinge.

          • Anon

            Your are kind of right. It is becoming a less and less attractive job all the time. Wish I’d joined in the 1970s.

            As for the risk assessments, it’s basically a case of fob-a-job there and then, but we are generally so short sighted. When was the last time your force prosecuted a DV victim against the victim’s wishes even though it was the 100th time he’d assaulted her?

            And don’t get me started on NSIRs – I don’t think our force even know this exists, or denies it even does.

            I agree though, the public complain at us and sometimes about stuff which didn’t happen, but when it comes to complaining about important issues, nobody ever does. Infact, the same applies internally/externally.

  • Anon

    What I dislike about MC is the overly-romantic way he describes the Police as selfless, benevolent beings who do everything for everyone else. We’re not Gods and we’re not perfect. The system is fucked because of everyone involved, not just a select few.

    • Dave

      I will ignore the obvious signs of trollage, and will in some way answer your….post.
      MC is a little poetic about the job, we all know the reality, but like a man in a boat on the sea, he only sees as far as his horizon, as do we all.
      MC is doing one of the best things that we can all do. Hes letting the public know what we do, do seniour management? no, they want to put over a certain face to the public that frankly the public dont believe.
      We all have some “maning up to do” every day. However we need to realise that if you do this for too long we stop being cops and start to become slaves.
      The “If you dont like it leave” must love thier jobs and god bless them for doing so but not everyone does. We all see things that are just wrong, sometime we challenge but most of the time we dont, we whinge, because thats all we have got left.
      We have rights but less than the man in the street (CPS chargeing guidlines etc), we are second guessed and under threat of attack seven years after an event that happened in two seconds. Seniour management care nothing for us in any way just as long as the pet (promotion led) projects get done and the arrests (needed or not) come roleing in.
      I have never thourght of myself as a god, would like to meet the ones that do because I would laugh myself silly at thier pomposity, I am a copper, not even a particulaly good one, I just do what I can and try and put good common sence ahead of management theory and local targets, I reserve my powers until really needed, I do not criminalise when diversion would work as well, I dont see a nicks high arrest record as anything but a failier to deal with enforceing the Queens peace.
      To you I am fucked, part of the broken system that should be swept away and consigned to history.
      My answer is that there are dozens of ranks in the modern police….3 do all the work.
      I am over seen by 5 seperate organiseations
      Any lawyer wanting to make a name will think it OK to lie, cheat, obviate and collude to get me sacked to get one step up the ladder to the big chair.
      But….I was given a set of powers, and took a mighty oath to uphold the Queens Peace, protect life and property (in that order) and by that oath I do every day.

      Yes the system needs changeing, the constables, skippers and govners all agree. The Seniour ‘Leadership’ Teams should be the area of the greatest change, a reduction in thier numbers would be a start, a reminder that we dont manufacture stuff, sell beans or life ensureance wouldnt go a miss either. Less projects, less mucking about with team strengths, less demands on our time for getting them promoted, less haveing to do every job in the local councils remit because they are a shower of incompetance, Less culture of fear. Let us get constables back constabling….we are very good at it, we dont need a chart from some bored CI telling us that X estate or Y area is a hot spot, we know, we are there every day.

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