A Sunday night in July saw my final shift pass as a Response Officer working the North of the county. I was to start my new role as a PC on the Mental Health Street Triage team in just two days’ time.
I’ve worked on Response for the entirety of my two-year police career to date, on two different teams. It’s been a hugely exciting and challenging period.
Starting as a student officer, completing my tutorship and learning the ropes, I earned my status as an independent patrol officer, obtained my response driving ticket and completed my NVQ qualification as a student PC.
Response officers do generally what the name suggests; respond to 999 reports of incidents in progress.
I’ve attended everything from fatal road traffic collisions to people in mental health crises, to domestic assaults and public order incidents.
I’ve been assaulted six times in two years and called more names than I can think to remember – but I’ve also received some lovely compliments that I remember a lot more than the rude names!
A number of jobs stick with me, but my last day on response managed to encompass pretty much everything! We started with a search for a missing 13-year-old who had run from her carers. She was extremely vulnerable and after a relatively short search, we thankfully located her, ensured she was safeguarded, and took her home.
We then headed out to back up some of our colleagues who were attending a report of a man shouting in the street outside his flat. On arrival, we found the door to the flat locked with music blaring from inside.
We hammered on the door and after a short time, the door swung wide open and we were confronted with an extremely angry man brandishing a large carving knife. Luckily he heeded the loud warnings of four police officers to “DROP THE KNIFE!” and calmed down.
This just goes to show the unexpected situations that you can find yourself in as a response officer!
After a few more jobs we heard over the radio that some of our colleagues from the road policing unit had a vehicle that had failed to stop for them, with the driver believed to be drunk. They’d lost sight of the vehicle and by pure chance we passed it in the town centre.
We spun our car around and attempted to catch up with it but it was travelling at extreme speed. We just caught sight of its tail lights pulling into a car park but by the time we caught up the vehicle was empty. A
number of officers descended on the area and after a search, the driver was located. He had tried to hide in a local park. This didn’t work out for him and he spent the night in our custody block on suspicion of driving whilst over the prescribed limit for alcohol and failing to stop for police.
At 5am, with only a little while left of the shift, we received another radio message. This time, one that no one wants to hear; reports of a person in the river in Bedford.
This was the third such call in the same stretch of water in as many weeks. We raced to the scene on blue lights, desperately hoping we’d be there in time to make a difference.
Some of our colleagues arrived first along with an ambulance and it was confirmed that this was a fatality.
In just one shift, I experienced the highs of a great catch to protect the public and other road users, the lows of a tragic death and the adrenaline rush of a knife being pulled on me – knowing the danger that could come with it.
I’m excited to be starting a new role but my time on response, and the friends I have worked with during that period, will stay with me forever.
PC Ed Finn is moving from Bedfordshire Police’s North Response team to the force’s Mental Health Street Triage team – a service which works to ensure those experiencing a mental health crisis in the county have fast access to multi-agency care.