Life’s seemingly endless stream is punctuated by a series of milestones, many of which are happy, such as marriages and the birth of children.
However in my career there have been three events that have represented ‘President Kennedy’ moments. Moments in time seared so deeply into my consciousness that I can recall every second as if it were yesterday. The attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 was such an example; the suicide attacks on the London transport network in 2005 another, but I watched these events unfolding as a detached spectator.
The third, the pivotal moment of my career, was in June 2007 when Jon Henry was murdered.
I was a Chief Inspector at the time and my role in the aftermath was minor compared to other people – among other things I organised the Luton end of Jon’s funeral.
I cannot claim to have known him beyond the level of a passing acquaintance but his death brought home just how dangerous a job we undertake.
All of us come to work expecting to go home at the end of the day and his death made me appreciate that we shouldn’t take this for granted when we spend our working lives trying to help people in a state of crisis.
The day Jon died was a typical Monday morning and I had come into work at 7am. At 7.15am my phone rang and I was told there had been an incident and that an officer had been stabbed. At that point we thought we were dealing with a serious GBH.
About an hour later, an inspector came into my office. He was in a state of complete shock.
He told me Jon had died.
Once things became clearer I co-ordinated our policing presence in the aftermath. Just about every person on Jon’s section was a witness and had to be pulled off duty so we could interview them to piece together what had happened.
This meant the section couldn’t go on patrol for nearly a week, so I organised cover for shifts during that time. I remember walking around the station and asking officers to leave their days jobs and instead to go on patrol. Many hadn’t done this kind of work for years but did so willingly and without complaint.
Probably one of the most challenging times in my career was as a commander organising Jon’s funeral, which was centrally co-ordinated by our Assistant Chief Constable. I worked closely with Jon’s church to ensure that we were able to deliver the spiritual and operational requirements of Jon’s reception into the church the night before the funeral and as well as the funeral service on the following day.
I was struck by the numbers of police officers, staff and members of the public from across the country who wanted to play a part in the funeral and pay their respects.
With my career rapidly drawing to a close I feel honoured to be asked to take part in the Unity Tour.
As I ride I will reflect on my career and all that it has given me – things that Jon missed out on through his sacrifice. There can be no higher calling than the service we provide to our fellow citizens and I am immensely proud to be associated with the police in general, and Bedfordshire Police in particular.
We are a group of the most fantastically talented individuals some of whom have immeasurably enriched my life. I will also be thinking of some of the wonderful people I have worked with who are no longer with us. Thoughts of Jon will be joined by thoughts of my brilliant tutor constable Dave Evans, who died only months before he was due to retire, my friend Debbie Allen who joined on the same day as me and who died in service and by big Jon Harwood, a colleague who, again, was taken too soon.
Superintendent Paul Schoon is one of five officers taking part in a 180 mile bike ride on 28 July in memory PC Jon Henry who was killed on duty on 11 June 2007.
Starting at The Mall in London, the team will be escorted past Parliament by police motorbikes to mark the beginning of this year’s UK Police Unity Tour – ‘riding for those who died’.
Officers from forces across the country will be cycling to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to pay their respects to those officers who are no longer with us.
You can donate by visiting www.justgiving.com/bedsunitytour or by texting BEDS70 to 70070