Some matters have to be run by those higher up the food chain, as in most jobs. One of these is firearms incidents. One shift, a number of years ago, a colleague of mine was duty inspector when I was controlling, and had to ring the duty superintendent in the middle of the night, over an incident involving something that was almost certainly an air rifle, not a real bang-stick. At the time, the duty supt was on a rota and had to be rung at home, the occasional phone call in the middle of the night being more than justified by the fact their salary is about twice mine.
Anyway, Bob, lets call him, looked at the supts roster, and our division intranet page said the neighbouring divisions supt was the duty that week. Only problem was, their rota page said ours was duty. Dilemma. It was now about 5.30am, and dithering was not an option. Bob takes the sensible decision and decides to ring ours, as being wrong in his 50/50 chance will incur less grief.
He looks up the supt’s mobile number, rings and starts the conversation along the lines of ‘Sir, it’s inspector Bob, I need to tell you about a firearms incident’. He goes on to describe what has been reported, how good the information is, what research has been done and so on, hearing the occasional ‘Ok’, ‘Mmm-mmm’, ‘right’ and so on, he keeps going. Eventually, he twigs that the supt isn’t asking probing questions as they should be. The following exchange took place:
“Sir, forgive me for saying it, but you don’t seem that interested’.
‘If I’m honest, Bob, I’m not. Shall I tell you something else?’
‘I’m in Crete’.
That’s right, it wasn’t our turn on the rota. Specifically, our supt had taken advantage of it not being his turn on the rota to book a cheeky holiday, and was apparently sat on the sun lounger on a beach in Crete, it being 7.30 am there, ice cold lager in one hand and mobile in the other, alternately supping and commenting on the job. He told Bob that he’d done everything right, but that he really ought to ring the OTHER supt, and have someone address the failing in rosters.
A few years later, the system changed during one of our massive reorganisations, and there was now one duty supt for the force on duty overnight. In the plethora of emails that always accompany a massive change, I must have missed this one when I had to ring one out. Getting his details off the roster, I looked up his home address, got the landline and rang. Several problems with this approach were revealed.
1. 3 years ago, said supt had got divorced and moved out of the marital home.
2. He hadn’t updated the system with his new address.
3. His ex-wife wasn’t best pleased to be woken at midnight by me asking for him.
Although she was very polite, I could tell she wasn’t pleased, and wasn’t in the least bit surprised to have him come in 20 minutes later, complaining in a patronising manner about the ear-bashing he had presumably just received. I put my hands up to missing this one of many many changes, and the supervisor tactfully pointed out that if his details had been updated, then this wouldn’t have happened. Which I found amusing. The way he handled it, I can see why he got divorced.