NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
Are you one of those people who think the police have an easy life? That all they do is sit in their van down the Quay eating pies and sausage rolls from Greggs? Think again. Being a police officer can be stressful – and very, very dangerous.
For example, a man who appeared in court this week has admitted ordering dogs to attack police officers. The complaint before the court accused the man of assaulting PC Ryan Plunkett in the execution of his duty by commanding the dogs to attack him.
The dogs were set upon the officer which repeatedly bit him on the leg to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement.
The accused also assaulted PC Martin O’Neill in a similar fashion, but that officer was uninjured by the bites. However the accused admitted to being in charge of a dog which was dangerously out of control.
This wasn’t a wee dog, such as a cockapoodle, which are all the rage at the moment, but an out of control ball of canine muscle. The charge stated that the dog was ordered to attack those present and that the accused did release the Bullmastiff . It ran on to the street and repeatedly bit PC Plunkett on the body to his serious injury.
The dog also attempted to bite Constables Douglas Bannerman and Thomas Canning among other officers present.
Remarkably, the accused then tried to bite a police dog during the incident.
In court, he admitted a further charge of assaulting PC David Craig by throwing a meat cleaver at him attempting to strike him with it. He also pleaded guilty to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by brandishing a meat cleaver and a knife towards the officers.
The accused also admitted the unlawful possession of the knife and meat cleaver in a public place without lawful authority or a reasonable excuse.
Further information regarding the circumstances will be revealed at the sentencing next month. The accused, who appeared from custody, had his remand continued meantime. What happened to the dog has not yet been revealed.
So, life on the Thin Blue Line is not all rolls and square sausage or BLT sandwiches sitting on your backside in a police van all day, no matter where your beat extends to, whether it’s High Street or Main Street.
I haven’t mentioned the football violence or the sectarian marches, or dealing with the drug addicts, the drunks and the wife beaters, but they are a nightmare for police officers tasked with keeping the peace.
It’s not all like the brilliant BBC One crime drama The Responder, starring Martin Freeman, either though. Or Line of Duty, but it’s certainly not like Dixon of Dock Green anymore.
In The Responder series from ex-police officer Tony Schumacher, Martin Freeman plays PC Chris Carson – who is working on night duties as an urgent response officer – but his mental health has been impacted after years of working to the demands of the job.
Packed with black humour, edge of your seat moments and heartbreaking scenes, The Responder has it all. You can still watch it on the i player.
While I appreciate that police officers are often busy men and women, I have to admit there is one thing about them that really worries me.
When I hear sirens going and see blue lights flashing followed by a speeding police vehicle on Round Riding Road, my heart in is my mouth for a few moments until it passes without incident.
I think it’s crazy that when police reinforcements are called from their local headquarters at Crosslet to an incident in the High Street or Glasgow Road for example that they take the same route all the time.
Both Round Riding Road and Bonhill Road can be busy places of an afternoon with children coming from St Patrick’s Primary School, Braehead PS and Dumbarton Academy and elderly persons making their way back to the sheltered housing complex at Willox Park in Barloan.
Why don’t the police vehicles go via the A82 to Bellsmyre roundabout before turning down Townend Road to the Church Street roundabout before turning off to High Street or the St James Retail Park?
Watching TV police series such as the one I have mentioned above [The Responder] I have noticed that police offices are sited in the shopping centres in the towns they serve.
Now, I know it’s not much of a shopping centre, but if we had police offices in Dumbarton and Alexandria town centres with a reception desk staffed by police officers then there would be better relations between the police and the public.
More crimes and disturbances would be reported. Unsavoury characters – and there are many – would be deterred from hanging around at the Cross and people out shopping would feel much safer than they do at present.
The present police office up the Back Road near the Timber Houses is unfit for purpose. It has a dangerous exit and entrance, especially when fast cars have to access on to the busy A82 – the most dangerous road in the country, according to a recent BBC Panorama programme.
Sir Stephen House, a relatively recent Chief Constable before the SNP created the out of touch, out of sight Police Scotland Force, which was fined a vast sum of money for failing to respond to a fatal accident on the A9 and other matters, said Dumbarton Police Office was dangerous and that it should be closed.
Is there anyone out there listening?
If the only way to improve the ventilation in the classrooms in our schools is to chop the bottom off doors and let the freezing draughts circulate then we are in trouble, serious trouble.
It’s not as if we didn’t know that already. The only comfort for me is that the council elections are taking place on May 5 this year and the public will have their say on who represents them.
I’m looking forward to seeing all the new faces, but I’m not inspired on hearing that a great number of the present motley crew will be offering themselves for election.
A word of warning then to everyone lucky enough to have a vote: If you always do what you always did then you will always get what you always got.
At the moment what we’ve got is far from satisfactory.