You can often tell the seriousness of a job by the tone of voice of the officer on the other end of the radio, except for one or two officers in particular who always sound like they need urgent assistance even when they’re just booking arrival at their grub break.
So I’m working the channel this week, steady would be the word to describe the shift so far. Then you get a voice on the radio, you recognise one of the officers and his voice is about half an octave higher than normal & a little louder.
“Foxtrot Six, go ahead, over”
“Vehicle failing to stop…..” Immediately you kick into another gear. Your partner, if you have one, creates a new log & starts typing everything everyone says from here on in. It might last 20 seconds, as most of them do, or it could last 30 minutes or more & end in the death of someone, you have no idea.
You hope it’s in an area where you have some geographical local knowledge, it makes it so much easier to direct resources. There is so much arse-covering these days, that you have to document all the thought/decision-making processes along the way. At some unspecified time in the future, someone in a suit in an oak-panelled room will be grilling us on the ins & outs of a cat’s arse on every microscopic detail hoping to eek out some grain of evidence that the job was done incorrectly & whatever the outcome, the fault was the police’s. So you run through a list of pre-determined fact points which need to be documented; was the police officer of sufficient training to pursue, was the police vehicle a suitable vehicle, what are the road & traffic conditions, what’s the reason for the stop in the first place, is the driver know, is there a baby on the backseat,Ã‚Â how dangerous is the driving, it’s a rolling process which affects the decision on whether to continue to pursue.
So you’re trying to coach the relevant information from the police officer, who, hopefully, is the passenger in the pursuit vehicle leaving the driver free to concentrate completely on the job in hand. You’re thankful that Foxtrot Six is an experienced traffic officer & you know the information will be correct, concise & relevant (so many inexperienced officers in pursuits feel they have to talk constantly giving irrelevant info). This means you can use moments of silence in the commentary to muster resources. You want to get 3 or 4 traffic units to catch up/intercept the pursuit so there is enough for a potential forced stopping of the ‘bandit’ vehicle, but you want others heading to strategic points to ‘head them off at the pass’.Ã‚Â If it’s night shift you might not even have 3 or 4 traffic units available. Luckily it’s the afternoon, so there are plenty & most of them want to get in on the act.
Foxtrot Six doesn’t ask for a helicopter, hopefully because he’s worked enough with you before that he knows he doesn’t have to ask because that’s already been done in the background. It doesn’t stop Foxtrot Two-One asking if the helicopter’s been advised which a) isn’t necessary because it’s already been done, b) wastes precious airtime that I could have used to send Hotel Sixteen to the dual carriageway 3 junctions up the road, and c) really winds you up because of a) & b).
It’s been five minutes and the vehicle is still failing to stop, the helicopter has an ETA of eight to ten minutes, 3 traffic units are now following the target vehicle, another has stopped to pick up some packages which have been discarded by the target vehicle’s passenger. A dog vehicle is heading for a junction 3 miles up the road where another traffic unit is already waiting.
It’s a straight bit of road, dual carriageway, you know for the next few minutes he can’t go anywhere. Tactical Pursuit and Containment tactics are being considered, you’ll recognise it fromÃ‚Â ‘Traffic Cops’ & the like, where the target vehicle is boxed in and brought to a halt.
The helicopter arrives, which is great because they can turn their cameras on & send the view back to the control room, it’s just like watching Traffic Cops except the voice on the radio is mine. The helicopter takes over the commentary while the traffic units organise themselves to bring the pursuit to a safe conclusion.
The neighbouring force, by now, are also monitoring & waiting at the border; sometimes these things cross several force boundaries. You kind of hope your guys can conclude business before the next force area; it’s so much simpler dealing with your own troops & procedures.
The target vehicle shoots past the next junction. Foxtrot Two-two & Foxtrot One-seven join the road ahead of theÃ‚Â procession & suddenly there are 5 traffic cars ahead & behind the target with a chopper above. It’s great when a plan comes together & the TPAC goes as smoothly as I’ve seen them go, there is not even any damage to any of the police vehicles which is a bonus, and the car owner will get the vehicle back without a scratch on it.
Two males in their twenties are arrested & a quantity of drugs & stolen laptops are recovered from the boot. They get dealt with in the fullness of time & get handed to another force who want them for a string of dwelling burglaries.
I soooo miss those jobs out on the streets, it’s one of the few facets of police work I do miss. It’s nice to think that you contributed to a success, especially when the traffic sergeant calls you on the phone at the end of the shift to thank you for a good job.
Despite what I writeÃ‚Â here from time to time, sometimes I love my job.