I never write anything like this, but this morning I got some news that has hit me harder than I thought possible so have taken to the blog to help explain. Before I tell you it all, please let me tell you the ‘why’…
Starting in the Police back in 2000, the old sweats were telling me things had changed and I had made a mistake joining up. Apparently policing was not, what it once was. I laughed and decided they did not know what they were on about and perhaps it had changed for the better. I had an entire 30 years of service to go and I could not wait to get started.
Roll forward 10 years and I had met and knew of a cop called, Frank, everyone knew him as ‘6’. He was someone that I genuinely loved speaking to, a huge man, grey hair and beard. He had a permenant smile spread across his face and there were tales and stories about his entire career, ones that made peoples toes curl and ones that caused bursts of laughter. In all fronts he was the ‘happy’ police man and he just made me laugh.
He was moved to Swindon Division for his last few years of his career and became a ‘supervisors’ nightmare. The reason was not that he was not lazy or a bad copper, it was because he was managed by a young whipper snapper sergeant and he had not fully embraced the new technological expectations a cop had to. Computers and technology to record actions were an expectation, all on a cop that had used his feet and a note book his entire career and with no IT training he must have found it hard but he always smiled. Oh, how times had changed in the short time that I had been in, I would have understood, but to me this was just another problem that someone had to overcome.
When I got crewed to work with Frank my shifts went by in a flash, I loved hearing his stories. Not all were about work, some was about his life outside of it and I found myself feeling a little envious. Everyone who met him had an instant warming feeling, probably because of his infectious smile and sheer size. Those final few years must have been hard for him, but he made it to retirement still with that smile, still holding that happy reputation up and making the lifes of those he had helped and interacted with, a little better.
Once he dropped into the ‘pensioners’ category, we lost touch but I regulalry recalled his anecdotes and it always brought a smile to my face. To me he was the person making it work for him and he rarely seemed to be down about anything. I guessed that being a pensioner suited him and he was enjoying a well deserved retirement. So it was a shock when we reconnected on Facebook just a few years ago and he announced within a group forum, that he had been diagnosed with PTSD, from his time in the ‘job’. This lovely, happy go lucky man had been struck down by something that had made him ask for help. It was only then he was diagnosed with this awful condition, one that too many cops are beginning to feel is the new ‘norm’ for this profession, only then did it come out about his struggles in the job.
So why am I telling you this? I found out his morning that Pc Frank Bradbury had passed away at the age of 67 and in my opinion, it was far too soon for a man who seemed to be so full of life. With the benefit of hindsight Frank must have carried this awful burden of poor mental health for a great number of years, even when I knew him, he never let it show through.
The old sweats warning of when I started my career, is still rings in my ears, the job has changed, yes it had, but it was not the way I wished it had. The care and support from supervisors has all gone, instead it has been replaced with number chasing and pushing individuals to the brink because there is far too much work and not enough cops. Had that young whipper snapper skipper stopped and supported a member of the police, that was on the brink of retirement, perhaps those last few years for Frank might have been a little smoother.
I only hope that the change back to a caring organisation will be swift and officers get the support they need.
Posted with utmost respect and love for a man, who probably deserved more from the job.