I learnt very quickly in this job, that there is an overwhelming assumption by members of the public, that as a Police Officer, you have the answer to everything, and if you don’t, it’s your fault.
As quickly as I learnt this, I realised that actually it is perfectly reasonable to apologise and go and find the answer, rather than fumbling through pretending you know what on earth you’re talking about.
When the abuse is hurled at me because I’m “not good enough” or the response I’ve given is “not satisfactory”, I guarantee that the person shouting at me hasn’t stopped to think – is it my first day? Have I dealt with this before? Have I just come back from annual leave and been given a job which I know nothing about? Is my brain all over the shop because of the job I dealt with before this one?
In this job, we are expected to be experts in everything. But that is a physical impossibility. The reality is that we are a jack of all trades, and a master of none. However somebody thinks I can know everything about everything, ranging from theft to murder, traffic offences to drugs, wounding to child neglect, I do not know.
All I ask from the public is patience. Work with us, we will get the answers we need (maybe not the answers we want), but give us time. Funnily enough we are often aiming for the same goal.
Confidence is a massive part of our job. I’m not. I doubt so many of my decisions, because what if somebody would do it differently? What if something goes wrong? Truth is, sometimes you just have to make a decision and cross your fingers. As long as you can justify what you’ve done and why, you’ll be okay. Sometimes we have the pleasure of navigating a complaint along the way, but it’s just another hurdle to jump.
I have been incredibly lucky in that throughout my career so far, I have had the support of one individual. No matter what department I’ve worked in, or what challenge I’ve faced, I knew I had that support of one person. I was introduced to them whilst I was at University and actually ended up interviewing them as part of my dissertation (Quite the role reversal!), but since then, they have proof read every application, believed in my ability when I didn’t really believe in myself, and now has an element of “I told you so” about them, as I’ve got to where I’ve always wanted to be! But it remains a fact that I have got here because of their support, and for that I will always be grateful.
With time comes experience, and with the experience comes confidence. Until it goes wrong. With me, it did, and for a while I felt like I was back at square one (not that I told my shift that!) It was a night shift, and I was crewed with my work bestie. (You’ll remember her from the KFC incident!). We got sent to a run of the mill domestic, where an angry man was drunk and aggressive towards his family. When we arrived, we thought he had already left, but sadly that wasn’t the case. This culminated in us having a fight in the hall way, getting locked inside the address, losing a radio, and not being able to get handcuffs on. I was scared. We had back up in the form of another car, and a van for transport, but I didn’t know how they were getting in. I felt so trapped. When our colleagues arrived, they managed to get in via the back door and I have never been so relieved to see them. It all ended alright, we were battered and bruised but okay. My colleague received a sprained wrist, and I got concussion, but we (literally) bounced back.
But that job ruined my confidence for a while. My head was filled with “what ifs” and I didn’t really want to be single crewed.
I think a talent of the job is to come across confident on the outside, even if you feel like you’re drowning on the inside. We’re always there to help people through whatever it is that’s happening in their lives, and we will always put their needs before ours. It’s what we signed up to do. Protect the good and lock up the bad.