Policing has recently featured heavily in the media, for a whole host of different reasons, some themes have prompted discussions, amongst them has been the question- is policing a vocation.
Policing in my opinion is a vocation; I can recall clearly the commencement of my service, via the swearing of an oath. This was a clear indication I had joined an organisation which was different from others. An organisation which would often place itself at risk to protect others. This sense of service, was reinforced at the then Police District Training Centre (Bruche), located in Warrington, this was home for some 15 weeks, it was hard going at times, but equally rewarding .One of my lasting memories was that of our drill Sgt (yes in those days we marched and saluted) a formidable officer and former Marine, telling us that our lives might one day be dependent on the person next to us and that from this day on our lives would change, he was right.
I have been to a number of incidents where the odds have been stacked against us but somehow we managed to assess the risk and deal appropriately. This sense of service together with associated risks is witnessed on a fairly regular basis, but none more so apparent, than when I was a FIM (Force incident manager) .In this role I had the vantage point of seeing all incidents within the force area, having particular responsibility for the initial stages of the more high risk incidents such as police vehicle pursuits, firearms incidents and other similarly demanding situations. Perhaps the most lasting sentiment I took with me from this role was the selfless acts of everyday officers, caught up in extraordinary circumstances.
I can recall a number of occasions when officers had been presented with life threatening risk, by persons under the influence of drugs / alcohol armed with weapons, intent on inflicting harm on themselves or others. I equally recall speaking with such officers who had been hurt and their only sentiment being “I’m ok Boss I’m at the hospital now, but I’m staying on duty, main thing is no one else hurt”
Police Officers deal with risk every day and they do this by placing themselves in harm’s way so that other people, often unknown to them can live in safety. Officers do this, not because they are paid particularly well, but because they have a sense of vocation, because they want to make a difference and because in some way they feel that the wider community supports them in doing so.
When we really need the Police – we are not asked for membership / insurance details- we are simply sent “cops” who deal with the prevailing circumstances. I think our class drill sergeant was right all those years ago; our lives could and for my part have been in each other’s hands from time to time. I am therefore thankful and proud that I work alongside people who share a vocation.