(A different from the usual blog, following the attack at Westminster, Wednesday 22 March 2017)
I cried when I saw the picture of a smiling PC Palmer on TV when his identity was disclosed after the events in London on Wednesday. People who know me know I like policemen. I like them especially in their blue uniforms, crisp white shirts and with shining silver buttons. But it’s more than the ‘man in uniform’ thing. It is a fondness for what they, male and female officers, are and represent, and this comes from an event in my past.
The story goes back to over four decades ago. My dad was a local councillor, county councillor, magistrate and a wonderful man. He had service in his soul. He’d been in the RAF. A local controversy meant Dad was moved up the list to become chairman of the council. He hadn’t planned to that year. The circumstances were unpleasant and caused upset and division in the village; there was certainly racism involved. It was simply that dad was next in line following the proposed person losing their place.
The night of inauguration came. Dad was proud to do his civic duty, but someone felt otherwise. The family received death threats. These days it would have been all over social media, full of informed and uninformed comments, but in those days it was direct and the police took it seriously. At that time my elder sister was married, so not at home. My younger sister was sent to friends, leaving just myself and Mum at home that night.
We were under instructions about answering the door, so when someone knocked it was a very nervous time. Mum and I looked at each other and I peeked through the curtains. It was a policeman. He told us he was on duty and not to worry, he would be watching out for us.
The threat may well have been an empty one from someone, but something that the police were concerned enough to send an officer that night. Nothing happened. Dad became chairman and he enjoyed a successful civic year. But since then I have never forgotten that policeman. He was there, there to tackle anyone who might turn up to harm us. It was his job. He could be injured, or worse, but cheerfully undertook his shift that night.
On Wednesday, it was a protection officer who made the shots, highly trained officers who look after politicians and members of the royal family, ready to put others before themselves in dangerous situations. I’ve seen comments on social media, barking at why politicians should have special protection and that we should all be protected. Well we are, every day, by police officers like PC Palmer, in a force that’s the best in the world. And I for one am very grateful to them.