A handy guide to the life of a police officer
So I woke up today to the ‘news’ reported (in the loosest terms) in the Sun newspaper that eight police officers were seen eating breakfast in Plymouth. In a day when there are drastic police cuts meaning that police canteens are all but a thing of the past (only a few 24 hour canteens remaining within the Met) and an increase in stress levels for officers as well as reduced times for breaks this article at first really angered me. But then I thought, hang on, maybe the Sun really doesn’t know what police officers do on a day to day basis and might need some help. I thought it is my civic duty to help those poor journalists who have not had the opportunity to spend a day policing to understand the kind of things that police officers get up, so I thought I would help them out with a brief list of things Police officers do. Now I am going to attach a caveat to this list, you may find some of what you read, shocking, upsetting and simply uncomfortable reading, however it may just enlighten you. As for the Sun I think it will save them a great deal of money and time in the future. No longer will they have to have sensationalised stories such as ‘Armed officer buys a sandwich in Tesco’ or ‘Cops in Algarve drink Beer when off duty’. I think this can only be a positive thing for everyone. I would like to point out that this is not an exhaustive list and can be added to. I will rely on the coppers out there eating their lunch and being a general nuisance in public to help me out with the bits that I have missed. So here goes.
1. Police officers sleep – yes they do, sometimes they may even get the recommended 8 hours, that is if they are not late off or having difficulty in sleeping due to the horrific incident they have dealt with that is playing on their mind.
2. Police officers eat – afraid so. all Humans unfortunately need food water and a bit of sunshine, much like plants. without these things they will die and not be able to feature in newspaper articles
3. Police officers poop – You got me. all those pit stops for grub can stay stored up forever, it needs somewhere to go. I have known one police officer actually go 5 times in one day. as they say ‘Sh*t happens’ even to police officers it appears
4. Police officers have families and friends – Sad but true, some of them find partners who like and love them and want to spend time with them, especially when they have been through a rough time at work, dealing with the misery that human life can sometimes bring. Police officers need their families to get them by. Some have also managed to find other humans that like them, they call these humans their ‘friends’. they may even see them in public and say hello, this can sometimes be whilst they are at work!
5. Police officers laugh – Again, this is a serious business so I find it quite disturbing that they chuckle from time to time. However, this is often involuntary because they don’t want their colleagues to know that they actually find them funny as they will earn ‘kudos’.
6. Police officers cry – Sometimes things just get too much and they shed a tear, I am of the ‘Man Up’ philosophy but some of them have seen some frankly terrible things so I think I should give them a bit of a break
7. Police officers have holidays – now this one really grinds my gears! they get days off from policing the streets, time to spend with family and loved ones, time to reflect and chill out. Some of them even go on planes and have time away from the UK. I am sure this is in strict contravention to The Suns ‘no coppers have holiday policy’!
8. Police officers read – again, this is the first I have heard of it. I thought that they made stuff up as they went along without thought or consideration for anyone but it would appear that many read, have opinions and concerns and a few often air these views.
9. Police officers wash – yep. some even have showers on duty!! told you this would get nasty. I have known officers train to stay fit and healthy and then have the audacity to have a shower. I am told that it is ideal to kit physically fit and that’s why they have brought in fitness tests but I draw the line at washing afterwards.
10. Police officers drink alcohol – Only off duty but they still drink the stuff. I thought they we always on duty but the whole family life, holidays and sleep has put pay to that. I believe that some may even get drunk
11. Police officers like the public – stay with me on this one. If you ask any copper, why they joined somewhere in their reply will be ‘ I wanted to help people’. how cliché is that !!! Some even help people off duty. And despite a load of red tape, some try and circumnavigate it for the better of the general public.
12. Police officers pay taxes – shocked beyond belief but apparently they really do! so in effect they are actually paying their own wages?? how does that work?? And because they work for the Home Office they can’t even swerve paying it (which is a good thing).
13. Police Officers make mistakes – Probably less often than you would think if you read The Sun but yes sometimes they make mistakes. Often they make mistakes with the best intentions and are generally devastated if that mistake could have been avoid. But they learn from it and they move on trying to do things better next time.
14. Police officers support teams – I thought they were meant to be impartial? but some have affiliations for Football, Rugby, American Football, even Baseball teams. I have known police officers to be working at events where their team are playing and watched in horror as their team have scored a point, try or goal and they have actually punched the air in delight. Some have even cheered Tottenham! (see point 13).
15. Police officers have feelings – Back in the 1970’s there was a recognised course that removed the feeing part of a coppers brain through cognitive therapy but apparently it was unethical (what’s with ethics these days!!) so now when they read stuff about police that is untrue or misrepresented they get upset and angry and sometimes vent that anger through the medium of writing, dance, sport .. whatever!
16. Police officers watch TV – and not just police programs, some fill their mind with binge watching episodes of ‘Made in Chelsea’ or repeats of ‘Howards Way’, I personally think that they should only be allowed to watch police things but who am I.
17. Police officers don’t like to sit in the station – These people don’t even like where they work! they want to be out on the streets doing police work! be comforting victims, taking statements and keeping law and order. In fact, many try and spend a whole shift away from the place taking call after call after call. but eventually that paperwork is going to catch up with them and eventually they have to return to the hole they call ‘work’. having been to a few I can see why they want to avoid them.
18. Police officers shout and swear – Rude! just plain rude! I want them to be polite all of the time ‘ sorry sir, would you awfully mind not kicking me in the head, there’s a good chap’. They sometimes swear back at people who have sworn at them, or shout because people are doing something they shouldn’t or getting overly animated and need verbal restraint .
19. Police officers love their job – Not surprised with the amount of food they get to eat on duty, time off with families, holidays even factored in ‘poop time’. But they really do, even when its exceptionally tough, they see or deal with something horrendous, they get injured or their colleague gets hurt, they have their pay and pensions messed with and wages effectively reduced, they are pointed out and ridiculed for getting breakfast before 8am in public, they deal with that incident that no one wants to see and manage the after effects and ongoing concerns. Yes, even after that they still love it, still want to help people, still want to protect and still want to make this a better place to live and bring kids up.
20. Police officers read the Sun – this figure maybe somewhat reduced with this type of journalism but they do read this paper. Some officers even actually enjoy reading it, they like the Sport coverage and the humorous stories published in its pages. Most are glad that page 3 has gone though, it becomes awkward for male officers to see that whilst eating a bacon sandwiches in a cafe on the beach.
So there you have it, not an all-inclusive list but one that will hopefully put you straight on a few matters. I have been told that spillage often occurs and they do some of these things in public as well. If you can think of anymore ludicrous things that police officers do I would love to hear them, I may even write a book ‘ the life of a police officer, things you may not know’. In the meantime, keep eating in public, laughing and being happy, enjoying your family life and supporting your favourite team because when it gets very real, like it did for many of us very recently you will need all of these things to sustain you mentally and physically.