The Superintendo was loving it as he'd received a letter of appreciation from a member of the public praising us the police. These things matter apparently and were at one time used as a stupid measure of public confidence locally. I did waiver a little bit as he went into more detail. The correspondent was an alcoholic who some years earlier had been stopped driving his car, having been drinking, right outside his house. The officers spoke to him and used their discretion to let him enter his house with no further action, just strong advice. He wrote that this event prompted him to sort his life out and the letter was a result of him attending Alcoholics Anonymous, attempting to put the past behind him.
He saw this interaction as an important event in his life. Not sure that DPS would have seen it the same way, but let's assume the officers smelt no alcohol. These alcoholics do hold their drink well. I had one on the intoximeter once and thought he was going to be a borderline pass or fail and was staggered when he blew 140.
I'm sure all of us have done things we regret. There are things I've been involved in that I've learnt from but still I remember them. Most were from early on in my career and they still bother me.
I was blessed with a morning on the area car when a probationer, as the operator was at court. I was expected to produce a return of work before breakfast. We sat up at a process point where there was a no U turn sign to await the unaware victims. It didn't take long before somebody drove against the sign and my old sweat driver pushed the gearstick into drive and cruised up behind the car pulling him over. I jumped out to speak to the driver who just happened to be a soldier in full uniform. To be more precise it was a Lt Colonel. I'd only been out of the army less than 9 months and didn't know whether to stand to attention or what. I'd been tapping the boards in front of my OC just before I got out and now here I was, stood in a position of authority over a higher rank. I glanced at PC old sweat hoping he'd step in and send the Colonel on his way, but he indicated I was to stick him on. I did so writing a ticket but it grated because although he'd done wrong I really wanted to let him off with a warning. That's the way it was when I joined total equality in treatment of offenders.
That incident has stuck with me for whole of my career. I've never been a process king and tended to stop loads of motorists in my early years, but looking for crime not petty traffic process. That was reserved for those failing the attitude test or known criminals as a disruption tactic. One thing I have done, is say to younger officers use your discretion and don't be afraid to do so if you think it is right.
Another time I was station officer and a chap enters with a badly bruised arm. He complained that an associate of his had injured him at his house. I'm not sure of the dynamic of the relationship between them but looking back this chap was possibly more vulnerable than I first thought and was being taken advantage of. In these days common assault as a crime didn't exist and people were referred to civil remedy. I listened and gave the legal advice and also words of wisdom to choose his friends more carefully before recording the matter in the Occurrence Book. I was a 50/50 at the time how to handle this but I dealt with it incorrectly. This bloke came for help and I failed him through inexperience. His arm was really bruised bad and possibly I should have recorded it as an ABH so it could be investigated. We dealt with domestics the same way so although I think we've gone too far with positive action things have definitely changed for the better.
What's done is done and I can't go back and make things right, but these two minor incidents have really moulded my policing outlook on how I've tried to do this job over the years. There's plenty of other mistakes that won't be written about here. I've written about my perfectionist tendencies and looking back they've always been there from the start ..... That's interesting.