“Oh dear. Where to start? I’ve been asked to recall daft and dotty experiences with the police and other emergency services, and mostly my reflections are positive, admiring and anything but funny.
There are some crazy things of course, like the cultural differences which make the Danes think the British are insane for letting private companies run prisons and the British thinking the Danes insane for having private companies run fire and rescue services. But my greatest familiarity is with the police, and there the anecdotes which stick in my mind rarely reflect as well as my overall impressions.
There are hair-raising tales, like sprinting with New York’s finest to reports of rooftop drug deals only to have one group of officers almost open fire on another group emerging from a different stairwell.
Or flashbacks to the brash copper in South Wales taking me on blue-light callouts with a film crew, showing off how fast he could drive down country lanes and damn nearly frightening us all to death.
There’s the bizarre footage I still have somewhere of the most frequently robbed bank in the world, a mock-up inside the FBI’s training centre in Virginia where rookie agents learn to cope with real life Bonnies and Clydes.
And there’s the incredulity I often encountered as not-quite Sherlock Holmes detectives jumped (as they so often do) to conclusions – often conspiratorial and usually making offenders out to be less impulsive and shambolic than they mostly are.
For example, once on a live national TV appeal, an investigating officer told me a famous rock band’s guitars and drums equipment must have been stolen to order – only for the musicians to point out that cheap reels of cable had been taken while the oldest, and rarest, guitar had been left behind.
But mostly what I’ve seen are good and well-trained overworked professionals who, as Edward Bear thought as he bumped his head on every tread as Christopher Robin carried him dangling by the legs, realise that there must be a better way of going downstairs if only they could stop bumping their heads long enough to think about it.
Give my regards to NZ police – I have fond memories and great respect for them”.
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