Every now and then, the people I serve alongside take my breath away.
The shortlist of Met nominations for this year’s National Police Bravery Awards has been published – and these are the chosen few:
• PCs Unal Ibrahim & Matthew Basden from Southwark – who chased an armed burglar, despite the fact that he had fired a handgun at them. He was later charged with their attempted murder
• PCs Leighton Gill and Iain McAllen from Bexley – who sustained injuries saving the life of a suicidal woman attempting to jump off a footbridge over the A2.
• PCs Ben Horrell and Nick Bones from Southall – who challenged and detained a violent drug dealer, despite the intervention of a sizeable and hostile crowd.
• Sgt Gavin Durnell and Acting Sgt Rob Richardson from Lewisham – who entered a burning building and saved the life of an elderly man trapped inside.
• PC Winston Mugarura from Wandsworth – who, whilst off duty and without any protective equipment, went to the assistance of a man who was being attacked by a group of ten men. Despite the clear danger and the fact that he had been assaulted, he stood his ground – before chasing and detaining the main suspect.
• Sgt Mark Hennessy, PC Geoff Orchard, PC Phil Bond, PC Spencer Milton and PC Dominic Vinall-Smith from Kensington and Chelsea – who entered a burning building and saved the life of an unconscious man trapped inside.
• PC Dewayne Hamilton from Hillingdon – who, in the first week of his police career, placed his own life in critical danger to save the life of a teenage girl attempting to jump off a bridge over the A40.
• PCs Mark Bird and Robert Wilson from Bexley – who challenged and arrested a drunk and exceptionally dangerous man. The suspect, on being confronted, pointed a loaded firearm at the head of PC Wilson and threatened to kill him. PC Bird reacted instantly and grabbed the barrel of the gun. The suspect fired the gun straight through the officer’s hand. Despite the shock and pain, PC Bird and PC Wilson managed to detain the suspect, secure the scene and recover the gun.
And this is just the Met.
Just this year.
Just the handful cases that have been highlighted from hundreds of possibilities.
I’m not sure I can find an adequate set of words to describe just how proud I am to serve alongside these people.
But I salute them all.
And I could tell you endless other stories from the last twenty three years of my policing life…
I have spoken with the battered and unbowed officer who fought single-handedly with the murderer and somehow held on until the help arrived.
I have patrolled alongside the officer still scarred by the gunshot wounds that so nearly ended it all on the night he and a colleague confronted two men of violence.
I have shaken hands with the officer who, despite a badly broken jaw, picked himself up off the floor and when to the aid of a colleague in desperate trouble.
I have sat and listened to the stories of the officers who went down into the tunnels and boarded the bus on 7/7.
I have had the honour of presenting commendations to officers who have seen the unthinkable and done the unimaginable with extraordinary courage and compassion.
I have spent time in the company of the very best in blue: those who went onto the tracks at Paddington; the PC who was taken hostage in the Iranian Embassy siege; those who went to the aid of Lee Rigby and confronted his killers; those who stood their ground in the midst of riots; those who have talked people down from parapets; those who have jumped in to rescue the drowning; those who have confronted gunmen and those armed with knives; those who have put themselves, consciously and deliberately in harm’s way – who have gone where most wouldn’t and done what most couldn’t.
And they’re out there right now – doing it all over again.
Every now and then, we just need to pause…
And say thank you.