It seems to me that we, as a society, owe a remarkable debt to police officers and their civilian colleagues.
Pause for a moment to think about what we ask of the men and women in blue – what we expect of them.
Amongst the humdrum and the routine, we expect them to go where most wouldnâ€™t and to do what most couldnâ€™t:
And we expect them to deal with what they find there.
They donâ€™t always get it right â€“ sometimes they get it very wrong â€“ but, mostly, they carry out their duties with immense courage, remarkable compassion and endless humanity. I, for one, am grateful to them.
And, alongside a debt of gratitude, we also owe them a far greater level of understanding about the impact that working life can have on them â€“ about the scars that they carry, both seen and unseen.
Some of them are hurting you see.
I have my own story to tell â€“ though I’ll save that for the pages of a book called ‘Blue’. For now, let me just suggest that there are any number of reasons why we need to be a whole lot more bothered about the health and wellbeing of coppers and their colleagues.
Simple Wear & Tear
There’s no other job that comes close to this one in terms of the simple wear and tear that officers and staff are subject to over the course of a policing life:
And it would be strange if police officers didn’t absorb a little of the pain – a little of the strain â€“ somewhere along the way.
Over time, it takes its toll.
Faces & Places
Beyond the general wear and tear, every police officer will be able to tell you about the individual faces and places that leave a deeper mark than any other:
As a society, I don’t think we’ve even begun to understand the compound impact on police officers and staff of the repeated exposure to extreme trauma.
The Demands of Today
Whilst remembering all that has gone before, there are also the unavoidable demands of today:
And that tension that exists for all of us between work and life.
A Life Story
Because it can’t all be just about the job. Everyone has their own life story too. And, amongst all that is wonderful, there are:
And the natural, normal, human thing is to feel, to grieve, to hurt sometimes.
That last observation is true of all of us of course.
But not all of us are police officers.
Not all of us have been in the places theyâ€™ve been.
Not all of us have seen the things that theyâ€™ve seen.
Not all of us have confronted, time and again, the very worst that human beings are capable of.
Not all of us have sat in the silence at the end of a shift and played it over and over in our minds.
Not all of us have struggled to make some kind of sense of it all.
Where police officers suffer â€“ physically, emotionally, psychologically, in any kind of way â€“ as a consequence of their service, the rest of us have an absolute responsibility to look after them.
A duty even.
Because they are the everyday heroes and heroines who police our streets â€“ and, every now and then, they need a helping hand.