On The Beat with Inspector Jim Tyner
This week my friend PC Keith Royle retires after 21 years with Lincolnshire Police.
Keith joined in 1993. We had a friendly rivalry and would always try to beat each other to an arrest: Keith will tell you that he nearly always won, but that’s not how I remember it!
Two particular arrests spring to mind: the time when a man used a stolen JCB to take the roof off our police car like a tin-opener (which is a story for another day). I jumped up on one side of the JCB and Keith jumped up on the other.
I could only bang helplessly on the plexi-glass window and look through the cab at Keith, laughing at me, as he had climbed up the side where the door was and got to the prisoner first.
Another time, Keith and I were part of a plain-clothes team that had gone to a house in Peterborough to arrest a burglar. We forced the door and, as usual, Keith was first through the door, using his elbows to prevent the rest of us cops getting past him.
He paused and there was a moment of silence. Over Keith’s shoulder I could see that there were six young men in the room.
It dawned on me that Keith had never met our burglar before and didn’t know what he looked like. Quick as a flash I hoisted myself on top of Keith’s shoulder, recognised the burglar in the group and shouted past Keith: ‘Billy, you’re under arrest’ thereby beating Keith to the arrest.
Keith is best known as one of Spalding’s dog handlers for the past 19 years. In his time Keith has patrolled with 11 dogs: the general purpose dogs were Buck, Zola, Preston, Bozzer, Bronson, Max and Razor.
The drugs dogs were Ben, Gromit, Dora and Floss.
It was Keith and police dog Preston who held the line until reinforcements arrived during the Boston riot of 2004. Preston was a young German Shepard and this was one of his first deployments.
The following year Keith and Preston provided security for the US President’s plane ‘Airforce One’ during the G8 conference.
One incident typifies Keith’s dedication and courage. On a warm summer night in July 2007 Keith was on night-shift patrol. It was about 1am when Keith responded to a report of a vehicle crashing in Wykeham Lane.
Keith quickly found a green Metro crashed in a dyke. There was no one with the car so Keith started tracking with police dog Preston to try and find the driver. After a short while Preston tracked to a man hiding in a dyke at a nearby farm.
It later turned out that the man was very drunk and high on cocaine but all Keith knew at the time was that the man was determined to get away and, unbelievably, the man attacked Preston. There was a ferocious struggle.
Because of the drugs, the man was oblivious to bites from Preston. Keith was on his own, in the middle of the night, down a country lane with an extremely violent man.
His nearest help was at least ten minutes away.
Ten minutes: it doesn’t sound very long if you say it quickly. But take a moment to count to sixty. Imagine struggling with an extremely violent drug-crazed man for those sixty seconds. Then multiply that by ten.
You can only imagine what reserves of courage and physical stamina Keith must have drawn on.
Keith eventually restrained the man until help arrived.
It took three officers to take the man in to custody. This is a typical example of Keith’s tenacity and courage.
Keith and his police dogs have been a familiar sight across South Holland for many years.
I am proud to have worked with him and I shall miss his sarcasm and wit.