This week marks a special moment in the calendar for us in UK Policing; it’s Response Policing Week and an opportunity for us to showcase some of the work that our response officers do to keep us safe. This week also happens to coincide with my Long Service and Good Conduct medal arriving at Cleveland Police which marks twenty years’ service.
The way we mark ceremonies during this time of social distancing has changed and it’s only recently we’re starting to return to any degree of normality with some commendations and awards being able to be given in person in a socially distanced way.
I enjoy nothing more than presenting medals to officers, but this year, I needed to find an important person to present my medal to me. Our frontline response officers very much fit that criteria of ‘importance’ so on Sunday night at Middlesbrough Police Station, I asked the very youngest frontline response officer in the force, PC Joseph Dale to present me with my medal.
Joseph is only 18 years old and it was one of the proudest moments of my career when he agreed to take part in the short ceremony before the night shift went out on patrol. I’m particularly grateful that Acting PCC Lisa Oldroyd also attended on Sunday night and agreed to let Joseph present the medal to me.
Strengthening the bond between the frontline and senior leaders is vital and this was a small way of helping to do so; to be with operational colleagues at night and not at police HQ in an office during the day for this important milestone. Moreover, understanding the difficulties of life in response policing makes me better at my job.
I wanted to use this event to make an important point; that our frontline response officers do an incredible job and recognising them for the way they go about their work is important. They are the true heroes of the police service for a number of reasons. Working 24/7 shifts is hard enough but they run towards danger when everybody else is quite rightly running away to safety. They are also required to make decisions in the heat of the moment and under immediate pressure in challenging circumstances. When I received my long service medal, I knew I wanted a response police officer to hand it to me.
Every single officer and staff member here at Cleveland have had a hand in the improvements we’ve made but without the support and energy of response officers and staff, it would have been impossible.
It’s no accident that when a child draws a picture of a police officer, they draw a uniformed officer out in the community (and usually with a smile). Police officers are the very manifestation of safety and reassurance and anything which challenges that perception (wherever it happens), shakes us all. However, despite that familiar picture drawn by children, it’s important to note that many others of our policing family are ‘frontline response’ from the diligent staff working in our control room to our PCSOs working in our communities.
So here’s to our response policing colleagues who keep us safe here at Cleveland and thank you to Joseph who represented his colleagues (and indeed the future) so well in presenting me with my medal.