UK Cops – From Small Acorns Do Great Oaks Grow

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Posted by my Brother in Blue from across the Pond – Nathan Constable

 

It’s not like me to struggle for words when it comes to writing a blog but on this occasion I really am.

This blog is primarily meant to be about UK COPS, the superb work it does and the phenomenal strength shown by the survivors.

And yet – there is a theme around this that I am finding hard to verbalise. A theme I am almost uncomfortable in raising but raise it I will in due course.

Yesterday we gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire for the major event of the UK COPS schedule.

It is such a wonderful, fitting venue. There are various sections within it for the different armed services but there is also “The Beat.”

This avenue of trees, within about 50 years, is going to look incredible. It is here that each force has its own tree alongside individual trees, planted by surviving friends and family, for many named officers who have lost their lives too soon.

Even now, in its relative infancy, when you look down this space and consider its scale and its simple beauty ….. Well, it couldn’t be more suitable nor more aptly named.

This year everything, including the trees, was a little bigger.

The Police Unity Tour who had cycled from London to Staffordshire, raising £40,000 for the charity, was at least twice the size it was last year in numbers.

The Blue Knights – well, their convoy just didn’t seem to stop.

The turnout – UK COPS say it was their biggest ever and I think a couple of the organisers were surprised and delighted in equal measure.

During the service we heard from several survivors, each giving a different perspective on their tragic experience, the loss of their loved one and the gaping hole left behind.

Then there was hope in their stories as they recounted how the charity had supported them and how it continues to support them.

How they have developed a network which allows people to support one another.

They cannot replace – but they can rebuild.

Once again it was the voice of youth which carried louder and stronger than anything else.

Last year, Nathan Dent’s words reduced those gathered to tears.

This year, a remarkable young lady – Vicky Moore spoke bravely and eloquently and gave us all serious food for thought.

Vicky’s father, Bryan, was a Leicestershire officer who was killed by a drunk driver in 2002. Vicky was ten at the time and she told us of that fateful night when she learned of the news and how she had then spent the rest of her childhood without him.

My son is ten. He and the rest of my family joined me for this years service and he heard Vicky speak.

He got it. He understood – as well as any child can – what Vicky was saying. He had made the association in his head that she was his age when she had lost her father. When he started asking me questions afterwards it sank in even further for me as well.

Then it dawned on me – this theme I am struggling with and it was this…

There should be more people here.

Vicky said that she didn’t understand the hero her father was and regrets that it is now too late to tell him how proud she is of him.

Vicky then said this:

“It shouldn’t take stories like ours for other people realise the sacrifice in police work.”

This struck me hard and I dwelt on it.

The service later heard from Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer from Cleveland who said that although she had sadly lost colleagues and friends during her service “to my great shame I just assumed that the families were supported.”

CC Cheer spoke of the work of the charity and how, unfortunately necessary but essential it is.

It hit me again – there should be more people here.

I have spent the last 24 hours wondering why there weren’t more people there and I think there are a few reasons.

First and foremost is lack of awareness. Lack of awareness of the charity and its work but also lack awareness of the events which necessitate it’s existence.

We should all be grateful for the fact that the death of a serving officer, on duty in the United Kingdom, is a rare event. Rare enough for very few of us to have experienced it in our service.

But it is not so rare that there are not many people who are struggling with the aftermath of exactly that event.

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UK COPS exists solely to support these families but I am going to be blunt:

The POLICE family needs to step up to the plate.

It has become almost unfashionable to talk about “the police family.”

The police, as an entity, has taken a sustained reputational beating for the best part of two decades and has spent so much time looking outward that it is in danger of forgetting to occasionally look inward.

We should all strive to uphold and maintain the Peelian principle that the police are the public and the public are the police but we must never forget that there are some who are prepared to put on a uniform and who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for doing so.

Putting on that uniform makes you stand out. It means you can’t run away from trouble – you run towards it. It is a vocation and a calling.

We should never put on that uniform without remembering what it means, what it represents, who it protects and why it is there.

But we should never put on that uniform without remembering that others have put it on and paid a heavy price for it. They are our family.

And we should never forget those they have left behind. They are our family as well.

In her oration, Chief Constable Cheer said “I ask colleagues to ensure that we actively spread the word about COPS and fully support the charity.”

Over the course of the next twelve months and every twelves months after that – we must rise to that challenge.

It is the duty of each force to promote the work of the charity and ensure it’s long term survival.

It is the duty of each force to ensure that COPS can continue it’s essential work supporting the families of those who have worn their uniform and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Those families have paid the ultimate sacrifice as well and need and deserve that support.

However, it is also the duty of each force to support the work of COPS and indeed the PD Trust and Police Memorial Day by reminding serving officers of those who have gone before them.

The military gets this right – I am not yet convinced that the Police are in the same league.

It is right and proper that a senior ACPO officer from each force attends the COPS service and pays respects on behalf of their force. This should never change.

But wouldn’t it be fitting if each force could send a small contingent of regular officers, special constables, PCSO’s and – absolutely – Cadets to attend the service.

Wouldn’t it be fitting if the Police Federation could gather it’s Rep’s on mass – in uniform – to support the cause.

Would it not be helpful for each force to publicise the event on whatever internal communications systems it has and invite officers to attend and represent that force.

If each force sent a carrier with 7 people in it that would be over 300 officers for a start.

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could actually encourage our officers to attend and support the event.

We can mobilise officers to deal with anything the world can throw at us.

It should not be beyond us to mobilise for this.

Social media is a powerful tool but it is not enough. This needs active drive from the very top.

We need to promote the charity, it’s work and it’s events. It should be something we just DO.

We should do it and we should not feel guilty about it.

These were our colleagues – they left behind their families. Those families are our family. The police family.

The UK COPS service is a wonderful event which is going from strength to strength.

With some solid support from all quarters and if CC Cheer’s request is acted upon by her peers then the event, like the trees which line “The Beat” at the Arboretum, will grow and mature into something truly magnificent.

Pictures courtesy of NPAS Ripley and “Bullshire Police”

A second, shorter blog on the Guard of Honour and #100Cops will follow in a few days

 

UK Cops – From Small Acorns Do Great Oaks Grow

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B&W – What’s it good for? | Shannon Atkinson

Shannon Atkinson Photographer

Fortunate to live in south Louisiana’s Cajun Country, I’ve come to know many amazing people from every walk of life. A long time cycling friend and all-around Renaissance man, Shannon Atkinson is one of those people.

I was captivated by his photography during this year’s Mardi Gras. Growing up with the annual carnivals, I’d seen the sights and images over a lifetime. His eye-view and imagery exposed a side of the season I’d never known—or imagined.

My crime fiction episodes, A Cajun Murder Mystery Series are set in the deep South’s bayou land. Shannon’s art captures the raw, gritty genre of the classic noir mystery thrillers. It was a perfect match.

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A giant big bayou favor – go to Shannon’s Facebook and mash the LIKE button.

Scott: Shannon, thanks for your time. How about sharing a bit about yourself?

Shannon: I’m Shannon Atkinson, and a Louisiana based photographer focusing primarily on concert and street photography. I’ve photographed live promotional images for artists including Plain White T’s, Percy Sledge, Louis Prima Jr., and Marco Palos in addition to other international acts.

My work has been published in regional magazines and websites as well as Yahoo Sports. Although I continue to develop a diverse catalog, my true passion is street photography, “I have always gravitated to Environmental Portraiture. It is not uncommon for me to shoot other genres, but the streets are where I feel most at home with a camera in my hands.”

I’ve photographed throughout the United States as well as Central America. Currently, I’m working on a photographic series documenting the decline of Louisiana’s indigenous population and loss of culture. My work can be viewed at  www.shannonatkinsonphoto.com

Scott: Your passion is obvious in your art. What ignited your flame for photography?

Shannon: My dad was the family photographer when I was a kid.  He had this wonderful, shiny, 35mm that I used to secretly sneak out of the house and experiment with when he was away on business.

Eventually he gave in and allowed me to borrow it when I wanted.  I fell in love with the ability to take a subject and capture it in a way unique to my vision.  I’m still in love with this.

 

Scott: I love the black and white urban-scape photography featured on each A Cajun Murder Mystery Series’ cover art – what drove you to focus on that motif?

Shannon: Black and white resonates with me, it has soul.   I started in the days of film and spent a lot of time in the dark room working in B&W.  Removing color from the image allows me to focus on shadow and form which is what I’m very much drawn to.

I do shoot color, but the color has to be a major part of the reason I’m making the photograph in the first place.  As for the Street photography genre, I’ve always been an observer of people.  Human beings are bizarre and interesting creatures… especially when they have no idea they are being observed.

Some people give off a certain something that can’t be put into words.  I’m drawn to these people and interested in seeing how this translates into a photograph.  The same goes for certain places, they just have soul.

Scott: Kinda of cliché, but I’ll go for it. If you could photograph anyone from any period of time – who would it be? Why, and how would you set the shot?

Shannon: This is a tough one.  The tendency is to choose someone that would be a bit obvious.  I could pick JFK or Marilyn Monroe or maybe Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Theresa.

The problem with these choices, although tremendous subjects, is that they are not that personal to me.  So if I have to choose a subject just for me, then it’s simple… I’d choose jazz great Miles Davis.  From the late 1950’s, the Kinda Blue era.

He had an ultra-cool vibe that I’d love to explore and capture.  I’m thinking in a dark jazz club with a cigarette and lots of backlit cigarette smoke.  Real harsh and grainy with lots of his coolness.

Scott: Miles Davis sounds a lot like you. You’re also an excellent musician and cyclist – what other acts of awesomeness do you regularly demonstrate? 

Shannon: I involuntarily wake up 1 minute before my alarm goes off… every day.  Other than that, I’ve got nothing.

Another chance to do yourself a favor – go to Shannon’s Facebook - mash the LIKE button. 

B&W – What’s it good for? | Shannon Atkinson

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K-9 Interview | Readers’ Questions Answered #5

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RHETT MATHEWS:

Being a current handler myself, I always get the question, “Why do the dogs come from Europe? And are they already trained?”

 

LT. E. RODRIGUE:

Breeding regulations are a lot stricter in Europe.  Some of these dogs have prior training, but may not be the training you’re looking for, so be very careful.  Some of the dogs come in with outstanding training and some with issues you may never resolve.  There are very dependable breeders and trainers in the stats that would also help you.

 

SHERRY TROOP:

What happens to the dogs after they no longer serve as a K9? Do their officer handlers get to adopt them? Can they integrate into “family” life?

 

LT. E. RODRIGUE:

Our department allows the handlers to adopt their dogs. We have had great success with the dogs integrating into family life. However, I have heard of dogs that could not integrate in family life.

 

SHERRY TROOP:

Just saw a news broadcast about Universal K-9 that trains shelter dogs on “death row”. The trained dogs are then given for free to police dept. So great to hear!! Wondered if you heard of them or deal with them?

 

LT. E. RODRIGUE: 

I haven’t heard of them, but will certainly check them out. Death Row dogs are very dear to me. When I started my first K-9 Academy I worked a German Shepherd, which was rescued by my dad K-9 Sam. K-9 Sam was picked up for killing chickens.

When I started with he did not know how to walk on a leash. I think for the first six weeks I retrieved the ball more than Sam. Then something clicked and he loved his ball. At the end of our academy we were awarded the Top Team award. I learned a lot from old K-9 Sam.

 

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K-9 Interview | Readers’ Questions Answered #4

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CAROLINE CASH:

How long do most dogs serve as a K9?

 

LT. E. RODRIGUE:

Most dogs work to between eight and ten years of age, depending on their health.

 

SHERRY TROOP:

What other breeds of dogs are used besides shepherds? Are some breeds better suited for the job or is it the personality of the particular dog?

 

LT. E. RODRIGUE:

Belgium Malionois, Dutch Shepared, Labrador Retriever are some of your most popular.  I have seen some mixed breeds out work any pure breed dog.

 

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K-9 Interview | Readers’ Questions Answered #3

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SYLVIA E. BULL:

Do you volunteer to be a K-9 officer? Do you get to pick the dog? What do you do with the dog during vacation? How long is the training?

 

LT. E. RODRIGUE:

In our department you volunteer to be a K-9 Officer.  I pick most of the dogs and try to match them with the handler’s personality.  In our department when the handler goes on vacation I kennel the dogs in my kennel.

When I go on vacation one of the other handlers will care for my dog.  If you look above I answered the addressed most of the training question.  In our department before a K-9 Team is allowed to work the street they must past their NNDDA certification.

Once they have passed their certification and are allowed to begin working on the street, they still attend weekly training sessions, which is required.  At the training session I make sure each team is performing well and address any issues that may arise.  I try to expose the teams to new things each training sessions.

 

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GEAUX TIGER – Breaks Out

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K-9 Interview | Readers’ Questions Answered #2

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ALEXANDER SIMPSON:

I’ve heard that some officers have to pay for their dogs out of their own pocket. Is that true?

 

LT. EDDIE RODRIGUE:

Yes it’s true. I have worked several of my own K-9’s. I donated my present K-9 Vic, so I would be allowed to work him.   Our department now buys green dogs for the other handlers and I complete the initial training to save the department the price of a fully trained dog.

Our department pays $5,500.00 to $6,000.00 for a green dog. This is for a dog with great drives and some very basic training . A fully trained Police Service Dog these days is any were between $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 plus.

 

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