You’re never off duty

I was reflecting over a recent incident which I dealt with off duty. But then another sprung to mind.

I have been involved with a series of incidents off duty, I don’t know whether it is just sheer luck, whether I am at the right (or wrong) place at the right time or whether I just have a nose for criminal behaviour. Whatever it may be, as they say, a police officer is never off duty.

The two key incidents that I will never forget is a robbery and a recent potentially fatal road traffic collision…

It was a summery June a few years ago when I decided to walk to the Police Station to go on duty as a Special Constable on a weekday evening… Yes, volunteering to work on the front line to keep the community safe on a school night (some may call me a rebel haha). So whilst I was on my way, I found it very strange that a male with his hood up ran along the main road and onto a side road. He didn’t just run, but in fact he ran as if he was running for a purpose. I just knew it wasn’t normal.

I carried on walking and came across a distressed female was on the phone, a number of people were looking at her and a small crowd was building. Initially I walked past, I don’t like to be nosy in public, but then I walked back and asked her if she was okay. I showed her my warrant card and identified myself as a Police Officer. I asked whether it was anything to do with the male who had just run off, she told me she had just been robbed. She passed me the phone and I spoke to a 999 phone operator to whom I passed the relevant information on to. Passers-by carried on with their business and did not offer to help.

I told the lady I would stay with her until on-duty officers had arrived, but then she told me that the operator had said I would be dealing with it. I wouldn’t mind but I didn’t have the ability to since I was off duty and did not have any PPE (personal protective equipment) and paperwork with me. I called the Police again and also requested an ambulance whilst taking the middle-aged lady to a nearby supermarket.

I realised how much shock she was in when I told her she needed to get her phone blocked to which she replied “how do I do that?” I left her in safe hands once officers arrived and then gave her a courtesy call to see if she was okay once I was on duty later on that evening.

Surprisingly, a few weeks later I received a commendation letter from a senior ranking officer who stated that the lady had sent an email of appreciation and gratitude… I was only doing my duties.

Recently, I was driving home on a dual carriageway where the two cars in front of me and on the lane to my right came to a halt on a 40mph road. A few people got out of their vehicle and walked to the front of the vehicles. Initially I thought it was a fight so I naturally got out of my vehicle to see what I could do. I then noticed a person on the floor. I immediately ran over to see a young child, aged around 10 years old who had been run over by the vehicle two cars ahead of me.

Coincidentally, along with myself who was off-duty, there was an off-duty doctor. We started administering first aid, managing traffic, people and taking control of the scene. We were then joined by an off-duty trauma doctor, which sounds like the ideal situation in a time of crisis. Officers arrived and so did paramedics, the scene was under control and I was informed that this would be potentially life threatening, but most definitely life changing for the child who had a broken fibula, broken shoulder and various other injuries. Fortunately the young child survived.

This incident showed the fantastic work which society can do put together, bystanders were also helping out and everyone got involved to help the child. On the other hand, there were people driving past who attempted to get out their phones to film the incident to which I told them to put their phones away… To which I got abuse (unsurprising!). It shows the various individuals in society and how this can differ. Social media and mobile phone play a huge part in day-to-day life, but there is a time and place.

“Law enforcement officers are never ‘off duty’. They are dedicated public servants who are sworn to protect public safety at any time and place that the peace is threatened. They need all the help that they can get” – Barbara Boxer

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