The words of the Rag and Bone Man, played over and over in my car. My sons current favourite song.
As I drove home from work last Tuesday after a 16 hr day, never have the words rung more true with me.
I had just spent the day coming to terms with the terrorist incident the night before. 22nd May 2017. Manchester Arena. 22 people dead. Lots more injured. Thousands of lives affected forever. My colleagues dealing with the most horrendous of tragedies. At 9am that morning, I had been in our morning meeting discussing the Ariane Grande concert…. ” we won’t get any trouble from that” I remember saying as someone much younger than me with daughters, explained who she was. How wrong could I have been?
We have said many times that officers run in, as others run out. Of course this was true here as well, but this time, the public were running in to help us, to help tend the injuries, help hold the frightened children until their parents could be found, help police carry the injured to the ambulances.
I wont describe the details. It is just too raw. but suffice to say, the scene was one of utter chaos, and yet, and here is the bit that made me so very proud….. Every single police officer doing exactly what was needed, every single police officer with a member of the public, with an injured person, trying to save lives, supporting whoever needed it.
As you will know, the whole of Manchester has pulled together to support those affected. Police officers have been looked after, being able to accept food and drink from anyone offering it. We are not allowed to do this normally, but in these circumstances, and just for now, not only did everyone want to help, but we accepted that help. The applause as we walked past the public, difficult for us to deal with, but so welcome. The cameras in our faces as we laid flowers and paid our own respects were a different story – I fought the urge to push them away.
Everyone who helped had humanity and wanted to ensure that LOVE and not HATE won over. They wanted to do their bit to support everyone in any way they could. Why – because its what we do. In Manchester, in London, in Paris, in New York, and also in Syria, in Iraq, in Columbia, in Thailand, in Northern Ireland.
We are all only human after all.
And here is the point, Police Officers are only human too. Members of our police service were at the concert. One police officer was killed. They had their children there, they know people seriously injured.
This week, brand new student officers through to the most experienced of detectives and many senior officers, have done their bit to manage this investigation, from the initial scene, through to supporting each other, from exhibits through to the long process of supporting families, from now through to….. well when does it end? At the conclusion of the investigation? As we move onto new posts? As the families continue living their lives without us? The reality, I believe, is never. It will never end.
Our officers will continue attending assaults and sudden deaths. They will continue listening to people complaining about the children playing football on their streets. They will continue seeing children carrying knives to protect themselves. They will continue picking up drunks off the street. They will continue to deliver the worst news ever to families. And so it goes on. They will all have their breaking point. That point when a memory flashes back, and they cannot, for that second, or maybe for months, push it away again.
As we start to take a break from the long hours and cancelled rest days, we each pause, exhausted and the tears flow. But then we pick ourselves up and go again.
This week I have been proud to know those individuals who were first to the scene, proud to wear this uniform, proud to be a part of GMP, proud to be a part of the BEST police service in the world without exception and proud to be Mancunian.
Please continue looking after each other. We’re only human after all.