It reads like a script for a TV cop drama.
An off duty officer – let’s call him Tom Cruise or Tom Selleck – is shopping with his toddler daughter when he spots a well-known local shoplifter making a sharp exit with an armful of swag.
Without a moment’s hesitation, our hero drops his daughter in the hands of a bystander (probably an attractive single woman – Sandra Bullock?), gives chase, overpowers and arrests the thief.
This will be the same officer who in other episodes:
- As a hostage and crisis negotiator helps save 10 people from taking their own lives
- When a man collapses at Cheltenham Races, gives CPR until medics arrive and saves his life
- On his way home from a late shift, arrests two people for a violent assault
- On another day off, arrests a man wanted for more than 35 knife point robberies in Gloucestershire
- And on yet another day off, arrests two men hiding in a child’s bedroom after being disturbed when the owner returned home
Except this isn’t fiction. It really happened and was all the work of one man. Sergeant Marcus Forbes-George, Gloucestershire Constabulary’s ‘Police Officer of the Year’.
Marcus was one of more than 200 of Gloucestershire’s finest – police officers, police staff, volunteers and members of the public – recognised at the joint Constabulary and OPPC (my office) Impact Awards. The winners ranged from a man who has devoted 56 years of his life to the police, first as an officer then as a civilian, to a 12 year old who showed remarkable initiative and public spiritedness in reporting and tracking a drunk driver until he was arrested and taken off the streets.
While much of the coverage of policing these days relates to cuts and lack of visibility, these awards remind us of those who turn up every day to protect and serve the rest of us. But how do you evaluate excellence? What makes a headline grabbing moment any better than day-to-day routine which might be of more lasting benefit? Is moral courage more impressive than physical bravery?
Some of the winners were recognised for acts of extreme bravery, some for diligent investigation and some who do less glamorous though essential jobs and have done them exceptionally well.
The six priorities of my Police and Crime Plan are intentionally general but they capture what I regard are the core requirements and responsibilities of the Constabulary. They also incorporate the need to involve the rest of the public and volunteer sectors and allow for spontaneous action and ideas that will inspire communities through the Commissioner’s Fund.
This is the time of the year when many other organisations revel publically in the achievements of their alumni, and why shouldn’t they? However, the Constabulary and OPCC awards are held without fanfare, partly out of modesty and partly because of security.
But I make no apology for praising those who have gone the extra mile and was privileged to thank people from our partner organisations and members of the public who work with us or help us on your behalf