Most of these stories I was telling my eldest son this summer, before he went off to college. I figured he was old enough to hear them, and it might be the last chance I had to tell long (and sometimes tall) tales before his attentions elsewhere. Well as it happens, I had not thought to tell him this one, and no one has asked about it, despite the award that is on the wall together with the Section photos in the Police section of my “I love me” wall.
Well this tale came up when I was having a “Whats the worst…. tale telling session with another ex cop and the son and father of State Troopers. This was my entry in the “most blood” category, blood in the English Police is known as Claret, after the dark full bodies wine. For those who have not had the joy, a relatively small amount of blood can cover quite a large area and look like a lot of blood, whereas major organ blood tends to clot and look more like red jelly and not spread around so much. Head wounds bleed a lot,
So I was on patrol with a new trainee officer, in a satellite town, away from the Maket town of ________. We were given a call about a young male hotel resident off his medicaion and cutting himself in the hotel kitchen with a large knife. The address was quite unusual, it had a very high number, but gave the road name for the main road through the satelite town, but that road also ran right into the main town. Now numbering conventions are to usually start numbering at the largest town, so a high number would put it right in the middle of our town, but there were no hotels that we knew of in our town. So we got to our end of the road, and looked at the numbers, which were very low, and moving up slowly, so we started moving faster. We quickly realized the numbers were moving so slow, the hotel must be in the main town, I think our control realized it too, they were sendign additional units from the main town to their end of the road. As we started to get closer, the traffic started to back up, the call came in that the man with the kitchen knife was now standing in the road, and obviously people were a little reluctant to drive around him, so that was why traffic was backing up. So by now we are doing about 70mph in the oncoming traffic lane, passing a static line of traffic, the vast majority of which had no idea why traffic was worse than normal, but the police car whipping by was probably a sign they were not going anywhere for a while.
So we come screaming around the corner, right in the middle of town, and there he is, standing beside the road with a huge kitchen knife, blood pouring from his arms, with deep cuts all accross them, screaming his head off. I pulled up about thirty feet beyond him, and grabbed some gloves and a cut down riot shield from the boot. The Force had recently gone through a thing of making sure all cruisers had lots of lovely equipment in the back, which had the additional effect of changing the balance of the vehicle, making it more centrally balanced, which is great for responsive driving, but also pulled the front of the car up, making the headlamps prone to blinding oncoming cars, oh well, you win some and you loose some.
So one of the items of equipment was a cut down riot shield, now for the uninitiated, the English riot shieds have a curve at either side, with a flat locking place on the back, so they can be locked together to form a tough wall, and are normally over six feet tall. These had been cut down to fit in the back of the back of the cruiser, and i thought it would make a wonderful way to keep me from coming in direct contact with the bloody arms.
At the same time I am grabbing this, the Police Support Unit, a Police riot van with the search / riot squad pulled up, and immediatly began emptying their CS sparys in the direction of the guy with the knife. At this point he pretty much gets down by himself, so I push through the cloud of CS spray and hold him down with the riot shield, while one fo the PSU boys makes sure he cannot get the knife by standing on his hand.
Just a couple of notes here, firstly CS spray, it is not really like Pepper Spray. Pepper, which every cop over here uses, is an inflamatory, meaning that it actually makes the mucus membranes swell up. Whereas CS Spary is an irritant, and it will cause sever irritation, but not inflamation in mucus membranes. the other thing to remember is that CS is actually a crystal, held in suspension by a propellant in the can. So when it is sprayed, there is all sorts of crystals flying around, some of which will get on the officer doing the spraying, some on the suspect, and some on pretty much every surface they both touch until they can decontaminate. One of the intersting effect os this is that you can go home after a shift, put your uniform in the wash, and suddenly your nearest and dearest is getting a face full of CS crystals from the uniform you put in the laundry. the other effect, I shall only mention by giving an instruction, always wash your hands before you go to the bathroom, as well as after.
So anyway he was a direct transfer to the hospital, and the clean up began, traffic got back to normal immediatly, and I really didn’t think much more of it. At this time 19__ Engish Police did not have any sort of ballistic or stab-proof vests issued to them, there were very bulky stab vests in the cruisers, but I did not grab one, since I was wearing a ballistic vest under my uniform shirt, the aquiring of which I shall give in another installation of the Tales of Emlyn. So basically when i got out of the cruiser and apprached the man with the knife, I not only had the cut down riot shield, i also had on a ballistic vest, which no one knew about. So I was not feeling very brave, it was just one of those days, the paperwork was pretty simple, I wasn’t even the arresting officer, it was great.
Many towns in England at this time had CCTV and _________ was one of them, a whole network of CCTV camers throughout the town center, and of course most of the incident was caught on camera, and viewed by senior officers from the safety of the station, recorded for play back and picking apart. So fast forward a couple of months, we are back on day-shift, and the whole seciton is told to report to the conference room for a section photograph, which I still have. Then after that I was reunited with a couple of members of the PSU and we were all given bravery awards by the Superintendent, got our photos taken again.
I value the section photo the most, there was one serious one, and one more ‘relaxed’ one, it gives a snapshot of my section at one point in time, but has us all together in one room, which apart from the daily briefing, was highly unusual. It would be curious to go back and see what everyone inthe photo was up to now, how many were still in the job, who had been promoted, or who like me had moved on. So I have a couple of the photos on the wall, and my wife pointed out I should have the award up also, to show why the photos were taken, so it is right next to them.