Sunday, 23 December 2012

"Plebgate", "Dis'gate", "Bitchgate", "Comebackgate" "He said..they said.. yeah but no but yeah gate" - "Christmasgate?",anyone?

In my 30 years as a police officer I collected a few complaints, very few in fact. Some might argue that if you don't book or arrest anyone you'll never get a complaint - well that's probably true to a point, but then again every station has its `most complained about officer` who in my day was usually the one with the most arrests for obstructing/assaulting police. Whatever the arguments, there was always one's sergeant and inspector to ensure that all gladiators faced the games of the day or night well presented and with a cheerful chant of "Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant".

  The one complaint I always remember this time of year resulted from me covering that vital part of the service that has been progressively handed over to non-police employees, the place where impressions are formed and reputations won and lost, usually within minutes of each other. Of course I'm talking about the front office in the police station, the public counter, the centre of advice, the fountain of all knowledge and the epicentre of cheery smiles and jolly banter. These days I think there is an award for anyone who finds such a place - and two awards if it happens to be open, but whoever performs such a role has my utmost respect.

I was covering the desk for a mere 5 minutes while the regular guy went into the crime property office to recover something to be returned to a rightful owner. This procedure was often accompanied by the comment, "I've almost forgotten what it looks like" from the poor victim, whose chattels had been gathering the, by now, thick dust of the snail's-paced criminal justice process. A ruddy faced man marched through what was, at the time, our brand new police station's glass double front door into the spacious atrium designed by the same architect that got the County contract for any new doctors surgeries, infants schools and courthouses. Apparently these other establishments' glass double-fronted doors lasted quite a bit longer than ours did. The previous police station's big wooden door had survived since 1840.

Mr. `ruddyface` wanted service and he wanted it now. I was in the process of taking details of someone's driving documents when the man decided that his case was more important and started to muscle in and interrupt me and told me that if I prioritised their respective cases it would be obvious that he should be dealt with immediately. I asked if he was reporting a crime in progress, someone bleeding or choking or any sort of life-threatening incident. He wasn't. He had suffered a burglary whilst he had been away for a few days but in his mind this took priority over some bloke who had been booked for a traffic offence. I told him another five minutes or so wouldn't make a difference and to wait his turn. He stood and fumed, theatrically.

I had made an error. It was under five minutes before he had my undivided attention. I took the report of his `burglary` which turned out to be the theft of garden tools from his garden shed (left unlocked). Nevertheless, these thieving bastards needed to be caught and punished, preferably by flogging or perhaps a day padlocked in the town stocks and then pelted with rotten apples. When I said it was unlikely that I could accede to his request to dispatch a detective and forensics expert immediately, he really flew off into a purple faced rant. I completed his report, told him an officer would be allocated the job and would be in touch in due course. As it was the day before Christmas Eve I said that although the station would be on `minimum cover` over the holiday, he might be contacted within a few days, although I would have circulated details of the stolen property within the hour. He told me he was a television executive and was too busy over Christmas and anyway he would be in Barbados for two weeks and not to contact him until January 6th. And I thought it was urgent?

Actually, `minimum cover` was a bit of a joke, as it still is today. In reality, this meant that over a 24 hour period covered by three shifts, instead of having four officers per shift covering 120 square miles of a small country town and numerous villages and hamlets, there would only be two per shift. `Minimum cover` was relative and whoever it was that set this imaginary number over Christmas had clearly never worked at Christmas themself, with its good will to all, punchy drunks, the heartbreaking domestic violence incidents and sudden death calls. I wished Mr telly exec` a `Happy Christmas` as he left the station. He thought I was being sarcastic and later that day made a formal complaint against me. My chief inspector dealt with it `informally` (before `informal resolution` to complaints was actually invented and made part of the process) and when we spoke in his office the next day, Christmas Eve, just before we both booked off duty, he gave me `advice` a handshake, a glass of scotch and wished me a Happy Christmas. (I think he was being sarcastic though).

On my first Christmas Eve as a sergeant, me and my five officers dealt with ten or fifteen 999 emergency calls, and other calls in between, in the forty five minutes leading up to midnight, finishing off by bouncing fighting drunks from the town centre church at midnight mass. By 0100 I was down to three officers for the rest of the night shift. A domestic `seige` followed a brief respite, where a drunken husband had seriously assaulted his wife and then barricaded himself into his garage with his `rifle` and the family dog as hostage. We resolved this as he poked what we identified as an air rifle out of the door far enough for my trusty local beat officer to break his wrist with a short sharp blow from his lignum vitae truncheon. Job done. The man complained later about the use of excessive force, but at least it wasn't me who delivered the blow. Had it become protracted I would probably have had to respond in my other role as duty team sergeant on the force tactical fireams unit, with greater force options at my disposal. I was lucky. So was he.

Over the last few days I have read such sorry tales of woe over this `plebgate` debacle and what has been variously described as the total breakdown of trust between the police and our (Conservative) Government. It has left me sick at heart for the job I did for half my life. I cannot recall such systematic bitching and crafted tactical press `briefings` and `between the lines` innuendo's of such finely tuned quality before. I hope my modern day counterparts can rise above it, just as we did in the 70's, 80`s and 90`s, but it is bad and this country can do without this shit. And if someone has `stitched up` the former Government Chief Whip, then they shouldn't have. If the course of justice has been perverted, the guilty (all of them) should face justice.

 My sister even telephoned me very late at night (I was actually in bed) earlier this week to ask me if I knew it was all being debated `right now` on "Newsnight". Now, there's a dichotomy!


Sierra Charlie said...

The debate about police reform has become toxic. There are huge numbers of officers who think they are treated with deliberate venom by the Evil Tories. The number of emails I get from the Fed about meetings etc. about pension reform is absurd. It would be a wonder if the Fed Reps ever did any actual police work.

The suggestion that some would go sufficiently postal to try to stitch up a cabinet minister rings horribly true. When the allegations first arose, before there was any suggestion that the officers might have been lying, I thought it was too good an opportunity to be wasted. And so it seems.


TonyF said...

Plebgate... I don't know who said what to whom any more. Not that I was there, and to be honest, the truth that the politicians don't like the police is nothing new. In fact, they should be terrified of the process of law. And those who serve it.

Hogdayafternoon said...

SC: The Fed was very much a career within a career when i was a rep. I walked away from my one.

TonyF: Never a truer word, which applies to all parties in this dirty saga. My old Met Instruction Book quote was never truer:
"Idle and silly remarks are unworthy of notice and should be ignored" - At least they were in my generation.

Trobairitz said...

Your quote makes me think of AC/DC "For Those About to Rock, We Salute You." It always comes back to music for me, my apologies, lol.

I tip my hat to those men and women serving the police department and thank them whole heartedly. Working for a defense attorney I read all of the police reports that come through and shake my head at the antics of our ass-hat clients. Luckily my boss doesn't have much sympathy for them either.

Oh, and I really wish they'd take the phone away from our clients in jail, they annoy the crap out of me.

CI-Roller Dude said...

I like the flogging idea. or catch the bastards and hang them the street....
The county I retired from has some of the richest assholes in the state...and they all think that they're important...I just smiled and said: "We'll get right on it."

JuliaM said...

"He told me he was a television executive and was too busy over Christmas ..."

*looks at tv schedules*

*sees nothing but repeats*


Hogdayafternoon said...

Julia: and Barbados'?? Call us old fashioned but you and methinks he might have been over egging the nog.
(Nothing new then, either)

Troub`: AC/DC have been playing a lot today. Mrs HD up north at her friends, Mr HD is home alone ;)

Dude: I blame the parents ;)

SCOTTtheBADGER said...


Hogdayafternoon said...

Hello Badger you wise old thing! A very Happy Christmas to you too. And say hello to Moley and Ratty from me. Adieu mon ami.

Quartermaster said...

My DSL has been down all day, so I've been unable to come wish all youins (as they say in Carolina Del Norte) a Merry Christmas, alas.

Hope it was a nice one.

Hog, if you're feeling underabused I can file a complaint for you. I just don't where to get the forms, or who to give them to. :-)

Hogdayafternoon said...

QM ;Complaint forms are issued to all newborns just after their cords are cut.

Justthisguy said...

Just checking in with you again, Sir!

Yah, I know you had a Duty to Act, with people like that. When I meet people like that, I cross the street and otherwise avoid them.

Had they followed me home, I would have had something better than an air rifle to present to them, I being an American. Ah, yes, my precious, my revolver!

Justthisguy said...

Oh, I am still horribly upset about that fellow, whoever he was, how many he was, who shot up that elementary school in Connecticut and murdered all those little kids.

When I first heard about it, I thought, "Oh God, I hope it's not One of Us!" That is, Aspies. Turned out, he may well have been one of us.

I immediately loaded and saw about 300 pages of comments. The gun nerd Aspies were being all rational-like, and the doodah socialist Aspies were being all silly-like, just as it is among the Normals.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, and further: I was surprised this evening to have a woman of my congregation come up behind me at the Publix while I was waiting to pay for my groceries.

After greetings and conversation, she admitted to having a concealed-carry permit for a pistol, and volunteered that her husband, an airline Captain, is officially armed by the U.S. Government, having passed The Course, and all that.

She still admits to being afraid of guns. What is it with teh Wimminz?

We boys like guns as interesting gizmos, and romantically take them up when it comes time to join up in the Armed Forces and Kill the Bad Guys.

Now, the girls, they just think of guns as nasty practical little defense weapons against criminals. It's almost like they don't trust us to defend them!

Hogdayafternoon said...

Hi JTG. I guess every syndrome has its day and will catch flak when one extreme comes to the fore. And 'everyone' forgets the victims so quickly.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, how I wish our Dear Dead Captain were still with us, to give us the benefit of his wisdom on this subject! Among his many other qualities, he even put up with me.

I clicked on a link at Suz's place to get here this time. She is a very interesting woman, active in the "androsphere", and her list of favorite links overlaps with mine to some extent.

One thing I have noticed lately, is that all kinds of people, be they communists, libertarians, Christian constitutionalists, Tea Partiers, objectivists, small businessmen, home-schoolers, general traditionalists, free- thinkers, anarchists, traditional Anglicans, Roman Catholics, blatant Pagans,
old soldiers, and just grumpy folk who can see what's up, seem to be right angry at our rulers in Washington, and London, and Brussels.

This cannot end well.

Hogdayafternoon said...

JTG: There are no atheists in a bunker when mortars have you zero'd.

Justthisguy said...

Well, mayhap they'll miss anyway, and I get to jump up out of there, and give a good account of myself when they come for me.

And no, I am no kind of atheist; rather, traditional Anglican Christian.