Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Naked Chief Constable

I haven't done much writing for quite some time but, chatting with Crofty and my dad yesterday, they convinced me to write about the events of Friday; Crofty kindly agreed to post it for me.

The death of Chief Constable Michael Todd rocked our force to its foundations, not because we couldn't continue without him - it is the police way to always carry on and get the job done - but because he was just such a charismatic leader. I met him a couple of times and, without boring you, all that has been said about his presence, his enthusiasm and his inspirational style, is true.

The muck raking that has been done around his private life since risked spoiling the memorial service in Manchester Cathedral on Friday as around 1000 bobbies gathered in a stunning ceremonial occasion. Just being there in our best uniforms with police horses in full livery and the rarely seen these days, police pomp made us proud to be part of our Force.

The atmosphere inside was respectful yet staid - strained even, as individually we compared the plaudits from a number of speakers, to the scandal we had read in the papers - it was like The King's New Clothes: he was naked but everyone was too polite to say. Finally Ken Jones, Chief Constable, President of ACPO started the process of acknowledging that being naked doesn't mean that all of those good things you did with your clothes on are suddenly not of value. Carolyn Todd then shared with the silent massed ranks, her own thoughts - they knew he was 'no angel', and they loved him.

If that was the permission to breathe a collective sigh of relief the song 'Somewhere' from West Side Story sung by 16yrs old Catherine Todd shot the cork from the bottle of emotion that had been straining for escape: there was a flourish of white against the black tunics as tissues dabbed eyes.

This was a fitting tribute: one that acknowledged the whole man not just the veneer. A bit like the police really - rarely perfect, always human and working very hard to serve people.

If I occasionally get disillusioned I will remember Friday and remember why I am still proud to be Sarah Police Lady.

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