Tonight two Spalding police officers are nominees at the National Police Bravery Awards in London.
Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. The acknowledgement of the bravery of individual police officers in no way detracts from the bravery of others such as our armed forces on deployment overseas or the recent local heroism of teachers and staff at Honey Pots Nursery andWeston Hills Primary School last week.
On January 31, 2012 I was off-duty, but had popped in to Spalding Police Station to sort out some paperwork when I received a telephone call from the control room about a firearms incident in Sutton St James.
Armed officers were on their way from across the county. I was asked to attend as a negotiator and switched my police radio on. In the meantime, two unarmed officers, Steve and Karen, were arriving in the village.
Their role was to maintain observations at a safe distance and report any developments. It was as I was making my way I heard over the police radio the phrase we all dread:
“Shot fired. I’ve been shot.”
Then there was silence.
Eventually there was more communication from the scene as an ambulance was requested. You can imagine what was going through my mind, willing the police car to go faster. A colleague was driving, so I was able to send a quick text message to my wife: “When you see the news, don’t worry. I’m OK.”
With the advent of 24 hour news and social media, I knew
that news of a police officer being shot would quickly circulate and I didn’t want Mrs Tyner to worry. With that taken care of, I could then give my full attention to the emerging incident.
As I arrived at Sutton St James I was re-tasked. Other negotiators were on their way, so instead I was asked to look after the officer’s welfare.
Steve was in an ambulance. I stepped in, not knowing what to expect. Steve’s face was bandaged, but he was conscious and talking to me. As the ambulance was about to leave, I decided to remain with Steve in the ambulance and we went to Pilgrim Hospital.
Karen was still at the scene and I had to rely on other officers to look after her. To this day, I wish I had put better support in place for Karen, but I was concentrating on Steve.
Without going into detail, I was with Steve when the bullet was removed. The air was thick with the emotion of what might have been.
Steve had been sat in the driver’s seat, engine running, reverse gear engaged as a precaution when, without warning, the car window shattered and a bullet lodged in his jaw.
Despite being shot, he managed to reverse the vehicle further away and Karen administered first aid.
Steve and Karen stayed at the scene, Karen keeping other residents from approaching the house. They remained incredibly calm in the face of danger in order to protect members of the public and keep the major incident room updated until specialist officers arrived.
For me, there are several aspects of heroism demonstrated here: the everyday heroism of unarmed officers, that all my officers display every time they go on patrol, not knowing what they are going to face during that tour of duty.
Next, there is the incredible bravery of Steve and Karen remaining at the scene after Steve had been shot. I don’t think anyone would have criticised Steve if he had reversed further away, but instead they remained nearby to protect other villagers.
But for me the true bravery of Karen and Steve wasn’t just on the day.
It was on the days and weeks that followed. It must have taken incredible courage: returning to work; putting on their uniforms; going on patrol again.
This showed true bravery and for this, I salute them both.
At the time of writing, I don’t know whether Steve and Karen will be successful at the award ceremony tonight but, whatever happens, they will always be my heroes.