Today, in London, the capital city of the land which I called home for thirty-seven years, a coward (or perhaps two; details are sketchy right now) murdered at least three people. Two of them were completely random, incredibly unfortunate passers-by who simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The other was an unarmed police officer on duty at the country’s parliament.
There are no words to adequately describe the disgust that I feel for perpetrators of such cowardly attacks upon civilians going about their daily business with no more reason to fear for their lives than any of us; with no more reason not to expect to be going home later that day and to be in the arms of loved ones. No matter what the supposed justification for such an attack, she did not deserve this. The killer is a miserable, worthless coward.
The police officer was killed because of the uniform he chose to wear; the duties he had deliberately chosen to perform, and the responsibilities he had welcomed. His death will be commented upon by politicians by the dozen, each clamouring for a moment in the spotlight, each keen to say the right thing and to be remembered by the public for doing so. It will become a major news event, but the issue of the police officer’s murder will become a statistic; an addendum to the headlines.
Not for me.
I wore the uniform of a British Bobby for eighteen years. I know what it means to be expected to place myself in harm’s way so that others do not have to. I know what it feels like to work alongside people who are totally prepared to step in front of the maniac and to take whatever fate has in store.
Regardless of the outpourings of sorrow and outrage which are surely already filling the airwaves, somewhere – in fact in quite a lot of places – people will be cheering and laughing at the thought of a police officer being killed. The public needs to know and remember that, just as every police officer, serving or retired, surely does. The public needs to know that police officers’ families carry that burden more than most. They know more than most that there may come the day when their loved one doesn’t come home in one piece, or even at all. They know that some will rejoice about another ‘pig’ gone, and they know that the contribution of their loved one to the community will very probably never be understood.
My heart goes out to the non-police victims and their relatives. Their pain can never be completely healed or understood by us. However, I cannot help but feel a special kind of hurt for the police officer and his family.
Like all coppers, he knew the very real risks. He knew the risks, and he did his job anyway.
RIP my unknown hero.