Earlier this year, a little weekend jolly down to London chez wife took in Winston Churchill’s bunker under Whitehall. Well worth a look if you’re even vaguely interested in 20th century history. Far more spacious than I’d expected, the contrast between that and Hitlers rather squalid equivalent in Berlin is vast.
Anyway, quite apart from WW2, it’s fair to say Winston was a remarkable chap. Not without his flaws, but remarkable nontheless. He has a namesake at work, however, who cannot claim the same status.
His namesake was a custody sergeant when I first met him, and had a knack for moving incredibly slowly. I’ve known officers take prisoners to other cell blocks than theirs if he was on duty, it was that bad. A pleasant guy, but moved like a heavily sedated snail.
Fast forward a few years, in our latest austerity induced game of musical chairs, my team ended up controlling a different area, and he was now a response sergeant on said area. The contrast between him and the other sergeant on the team was as vast as the bunker version of keeping up with the Jones’. When his oppo is on duty, life is great, things get done. When he’s in charge, it’s a nightmare.
Basically, he is what’s known as a decision-free zone. I realised that while in custody, he was probably just struggling to decide what to do next. He frequently can’t be got hold of on the radio, his office or mobile phone either. Normally a pain for a supervisor, but occasionally a blessing when we had to make decisions in a hurry that should have been run by him first. Simple questions often produce rambling answers that don’t address the question, but just raise more.
One time, my friend Bob sent a car to a domestic assault, as it was a repeat address, he sent Winston as well, force policy dictates sergeants should go to repeat domestics. It sounds nasty, so they’ve making on blues and sirens. Winston shouts up to say he’s going too, a few minutes later the unit updates via radio that they have arrived, then there’s the wait for their initial update…is anyone hurt/dead/running away/armed/fighting/under arrest etc.
About 5 minutes later, Winny pipes up, with his sirens blaring in the background, and asks what road it’s on again.
So he’s been blue lighting to a job, and he doesn’t even know where it is. Turns out he’s not even blue light / siren trained. In fact he’s failed his response driving course 3 times. If he’d had a crash, there’s no getting away from the fact his sirens are on tape and his GPS history is likewise recorded, proving his speed, dropping him in it big time.
His GPS is a blessing though, as occasionally he gets lost and has to be spoon-fed directions. Somehow, I have no idea how, he has qualified as an inspector, and when the boss is away, he takes the helm. It’s like having a dementia patient in charge.
I feel awful saying it, as he’s not unpleasant, he’s just useless. I used to wonder if it was just me being intolerant, but recently I was privy to a conversation between two sergeants where I now work, and one of them mentioned his name. Straight away, the other said ‘Oh god no, not that f*cking idiot!’, and they reeled off a list of fresh idiocy.
It’s not me.