So I’m back……..thanks for waiting…………
Let me explain the title, ‘Stop the Panda, I want to get out.’ Many of you will know a panda is what they refer to as a small marked police vehicle. When I left the police I was in the C.I.D but ‘Stop the Unmarked Black Ford Mondeo…..’ didn’t have the same ring to it!
……….so I arrive at Wimbledon having had a week’s holiday after ‘Passing Out’ (the term for successfully completing the 20 week police training course – not getting smashed & falling asleep!)
I was placed on a 10 week ‘Street Duties Course’ whereby you’re teamed up with experienced officers to show you the ropes. Prior to completing Hendon my father had been diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer. I made the decision not to tell my senior officers as I didn’t want sympathy & an easy ride. I wanted to be on a level playing field with the other 7 new recruits. (this later turned out to be the wrong decision!) Also being 25 years old I felt confident with my own ability & thought I could handle the pressure of starting at a new police station & caring for my father who was in & out of the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, Surrey.
I enjoyed the first few weeks of the Street Duties course. We assisted at some big public order events such as Crystal Palace home football matches. It was on the way to one said match on a Saturday afternoon where my troubles began. I was sitting in the rear of a police carrier (large van) with my 7 fellow recruits, the street duty instructor’s & some regular police constables from various different relief’s who had been assigned to ‘football aid’. One of our instructor’s (let’s call him PC Gee), an experienced ‘Area Car’ driver was in the drivers seat. As we rounded a sharp bend PC Gee ‘kerbed’ the rear nearside tyre which caused a large cheer in the rear. I shouted out, “Call yourself an Area Car driver? My mum could’ve got round there!”. I considered this to be banter but this would lead to six months of hell! The rest of the day went off without any issues.
I had the Sunday as a day off which I spent with dad at The Royal Marsden.
I reported back on duty at 8am on the Monday morning & was immediately called in to see the Street Duty Sergeant (let’s call him PS Ay). Also present were 2 street duty instructor’s. PS Ay asked how the Saturday had gone & I replied I thought it had gone well but their faces were telling me a different story! I was then handed an A4 piece of paper with my name on the top & asked to read it. It relayed the incident where PC Gee ‘kerbed’ the vehicle & the comment I had made. It went on to say that a number of the regular officers had taken offence at my comment (made by a probationer). At no point did anyone approach me on the day & as far as I was concerned it was a comment made in jest.
PS Ay asked if I had indeed said the comment to which I replied ‘Yes’. He then informed me I was being given a verbal warning which would be placed on my personnel file & asked me to sign the form. I told him I was not prepared to sign the form as that would suggest I was admitting guilt. PS Ay then said I could return to my duties.
I immediately went to look for PC Gee & said to him that if I had offended him in any way then I was sorry. That was not my intention, it was merely ‘banter’. PC Gee said, ” Ray, it’s not a problem. I know you didn’t mean any harm. One of the regular PC’s made a complaint.” (let’s refer to him as PC Emm).
The remainder of the Street Duty’s course went off without any further incidents & I was given a date in late June 1994 to join ‘B’ relief based out of Wimbledon. I didn’t realise what was waiting for me……………….(to be cont……..)
So it’s only taken me 3 years to come back after I opened this WordPress account! Better late than never! I have to thank a fantastic writer extraordinaire Sadie Hasler who told me via Twitter just to WRITE so here goes……………..
I suppose I need to start off with talking about a ‘job’ I loved & did for 17 years. I wanted to be a police officer from the age of 7 after listening to my Great Uncle John who told me fabulous stories about his time walking the beat in London during the Second World War.
Then a few years later (I was only 10!) I discovered a tv cop show which would change my life! It was called The Sweeney & starred John Thaw & Dennis Waterman as DI John ‘Jack’ Regan & DS George Carter. Little did I know that 20 years later their escapades each Monday evening would have a major influence on my own police career!
Lines from the show such as “Get your clothes on! You’re nicked!” and “We’re The Sweeney son & we haven’t had any dinner so stop mucking us about” were used by myself & my colleagues frequently. In fact it would be mentioned in briefings prior to carrying out a ‘W’ (warrant) what Sweeney lines we would try to use that day. The only difference was we had to replace the word ‘Sweeney’ with ‘Crime Squad’! It was silly little things like this that made the long days worthwhile. And on the odd occasion the ‘villain’ would know what we were up to (the baddies loved The Sweeney too!)
I applied to the Metropolitan Police in January 1993 & after a lengthy process of application forms, essay writing, fitness assessment, medical & formal interview I was finally accepted & given a start date of November 22nd 1993. I was 25 years old & thought I had enough life experience to succeed.
I spent 20 weeks at Hendon (training school) & then given my 1st posting. I would be walking the beat in Wimbledon (I can think of worse places to work!)
In total 8 recruits would be going to ‘ZM’ district……………
Time to get ready for work but now I’m on here I’ll be back soon. And I will explain the title – ‘Stop the Panda……..’
Hopefully at least one person will read this!!
And once again thank you Sadie Hasler!!!!
The Great Raymondo
My first thoughts will come soon………………………..