It’s a Friday night and I’m on night shift. My shift officially starts at 10pm however at 9:40pm I am in my uniform with my radio and CS gas sitting in a briefing with the rest of my shift.
The briefing starts by covering any major overnight crime patterns such as a spate of burglaries or car thefts. Next up is the list of people who are under curfew and who must be checked to ensure that they are at the correct address. We will be informed of any “targets” to keep an eye out for. These “targets” are usually prolific offenders who are often wanted on warrant, for breach of bail or are suspected as being involved in a crime and are to be arrested and interviewed about the offence if seen.
The final point is to tell me who I will be working with that night. The Force has a “safe crewing” policy. This means that my supervision (usually a Sergeant overseen by an Inspector) has made a risk assessment and decided whether it is safe for us to be on our own (single crewed) or teamed up with someone (double crewed). As it’s a night shift, it is almost certain that everyone on the shift will be double crewed.
By 9:55pm on a normal night shift, the call would be made over the radio to “call the cars in”, in other words have the back shift return to the station to hand the cars over to the night shift. The back shift are usually due to finish at midnight so the last two hours gives them a chance to catch up on their paperwork.
Tonight is a Friday night so, just like a Saturday night, the back shift are working until 3am in the cars whilst we patrol the town centre on foot providing a “high visibility” presence. In other words, the big bosses know that it looks good in the press if Officers are patrolling on foot rather than sitting in cars all night.
The station is only five minutes walk from the town centre and soon a whole shift of around 16 Officers are patrolling along a half-mile stretch of road trying to stay warm and keeping an eye out for trouble.
Within 15 minutes I am waved over by a doorman (they do not like to be called “bouncers”) at a nightclub. As I approach the club I can see and hear someone waving their arms and shouting at the staff. One doorman tells me that they have refused entry to the man as he does not have any ID on him. The man who looks like he is in his mid-teens is obviously not happy about this and my arrival does not calm him down.
He is obviously drunk and in between a LOT of swearing and with accompanying arm gestures, he tells me in no uncertain terms that his girlfriend is already in the club and that he should be allowed in to see her and they (the door staff) are threatening his relationship.
Although he already fits the criteria to allow me to arrest him for being drunk and disorderly ie he is in a public place, he is drunk and his behaviour is disorderly, I really don’t want to spoil his night just because he does not have any ID on him so I start out on my three stage course of action: ask, warn, then if all else fails, arrest. About 9 times out of 10, this will defuse the situation without me having to arrest anyone and ruining someone’s night.
To begin with, I ask him to calm down and stop swearing. He takes a deep breath and stops waving his arms about. So far so good. I ask him how old he is. After another bout of swearing, he eventually tells me that he is 23 and holds up his fingers in case we don’t know what the numbers 2 and 3 look like, making sure that he makes the ‘V’ sign for the 2.
Although he is shouting, swearing and waving his arms again, he is not really bothering anyone or getting in anyone’s way so I go to the next step in an attempt to diffuse the situation. “I’ve asked you to stop swearing and calm down, now I’m telling you, stop swearing and calm down or you will be arrested”. That’s the warning and hopefully that will make him see that it really is time to calm down.
He looks me and my colleague up and down and appears to accept that he is not going to get in to the club tonight. As he walks away he glances over his should and tells us: “I pay your wages, this is a disgrace”.
Ah, the old “I pay your wages” line. If I had a penny for every time I had heard that one I would have retired after a year in the job. There are always comebacks to that line however I have always found it best just to ignore it completely as it only fans the flames and every now and then you get a bona fide comedian who just makes you look stupid.
By Officer X
See Part II here