What follows is the second in a series of officer profiles. The content is disturbing and this is your warning.
There are often many occasions where I have, in my duty, been at one call that has been so harrowing then the next call is so mundane.
What follows is an officers experience of that very thing. You see, people like to have a go at the police in much the same way they started to become mouthy with their parents.
People like to think they know their rights, they know how they can behave. They want to be obstructive or disruptive. In fact, some are just genuinely of the belief that their problem is the biggest in the world.
We have a limited number of officers that can attend incidents, so many are sent as and when they become free.
From performing CPR on a dead infant to talking a young woman off a bridge. From being told by a Chairpublican that their family will be murdered for some weird cause or being stuck by an HIV Heroin users needle.
You don’t know what’s on our mind. You can’t know. The next time you find yourself dealing with a police officer in their professional demeanour, please give us the respect and decency you would any other guest in your home; you have no idea what we may have just come from.
When I started my shift it was actually very quiet. Not much was handed over from the previous section. It was a beautiful late afternoon. Quiet and peaceful.
There was football on the TV in the Staff Room where I was waiting to be dispatched to a call. I remember being really pissed off that my team was losing.
Sometime that evening I heard my callsign go off in my ear, “November Six Zero Urgent” which awoke a sigh by me and those with me in the room as our match was being disturbed.
I keyed my radio, “Go ahead,” in reply to being told, “Yeah there’s a report that a young lad has come off a bike… doesn’t sound good.”
My colleagues and I got into the police car and put the lights and sirens on and we rushed over there. We didn’t know what to expect.
“Off a bike? Might be messy.”
“Mate it could be a push bike or a motorbike, they never give us clarity.”
“Did they say the age?”
“Someone said a boy.”
We arrived at the scene to see hundreds of people gathered, a crowd of distraught faces at the busy junction watching from close by.
The lifeless body of a young boy lay, face up, on the pavement. We were the first on the scene. I can’t stand being the first on the scene. The public has an expectation for you to do something… anything… to help.
His bicycle was 100ft up the road, having been carried away by the hit and run driver who struck him.
The moment we arrived it was very obvious the boy was dead, very visible injuries to his head and shoulders that are not conducive to life.
We grabbed our critical care first aid kit from the van and tried to put on a show. I looked my colleague in the eye and he knew he was dead too.
I dropped to my knees and cradled the boy’s head, his skull depressed and obviously broken as brain matter began to leak against my fingers.
Despite this, I knew everyone was watching… we can’t be seen to do nothing. Not in Northern Ireland.
There’s many out there not beyond politicising the tragic death of a child for their own point scoring.
To my horror, the boy’s father emerged from the crowd in a distressed state. I immediately moved my legs and the kit bag to try and obscure the lad’s head and shoulder injury.
Fortunately, the Ambulance was there almost immediately after and a colleague was able to keep the father back from the scene.
The blue shirts immediately saw the boy was beyond any help but quickly got out a lift bed to transfer the boys lifeless grey body onto the bed.
We didn’t speak a word amongst ourselves but we all urgently tried to get the boys body off the street and into the ambulance.
The Ambulance sped off with a false sense of urgency as the entirety of the boys family had now gathered nearby and watched the scene.
The father looked like his soul has been robbed from him and that he’d aged in the 2 minutes between my first seeing him and now talking to him.
He asked me, “Will he be okay?”
“I’ve no idea, I’m not trained but he’s with the best folk now, get yourself down to the hospital.”
As he turned away unsure to get into a waiting taxi from a good samaritan I was grateful that he hadn’t noticed the brain matter that had seeped out and soaked my legs.
After the incident, I’d gotten a change of pants back at my station and was assigned to another call right after it, two neighbours having a dispute over noise.
As I sat there, being accused of not taking the woman’s concerns seriously all I could think of was the glassy look in the boy’s eyes.
I didn’t blame her, she couldn’t have known what I’d just dealt with.