I have a lot respect for police officers but in my last two dealings with them I have been shocked by how insensitive and abrasive some of the officers have been when dealing with situations that demand some of empathy and at least a degree of concern for our safety.
On one occasion I called the police after being verbally abused and threatened with violence by a family member who couldn’t be reasoned with or calmed down. I called the police, and when they arrived I was still in shock, visibly distressed and concerned for the safety of my grandmother who is prone to panic attacks and is very frail. I left the premises because I believed my presence was making the situation worse. I called the police immediately after making several attempts to calm the situation.
After giving all the details to the police officer about the situation, he shrugged his shoulders and said ‘so what’s the problem?’. The level of indifference was surprising to me, but I do understand that the policeman has probably become desensitised considering all the terrible things he’s likely to have seen. But at the same time, my reflexive reaction was one of shock. They just didn’t seem to grasp how urgent the situation was, and I explained that they needed to go to my home address immediately whilst he is angry because I don’t know what he’ll be capable of doing (he has a history of violence which I also added) I replied with a note of frustration ‘how can you ask that question when I’ve said that he’s threatened to take my property, beat me up, and is scaring my grandmother?’. That’s why I dialled 999, it was an emergency and was only a matter of time before it would get violent if the police didn’t come and remove him.
He then reprimanded me for my ‘attitude’ and seemed to make the assumption that I was just an unruly teenager who needed to be spoken down to and probably thought that that’s why this particular family member was threatening towards me (I know I’m mind reading a bit, but I’m going to go out on the limb and say that that’s what he must have thought based on my intuition). He then asked me a series of questions in which my own sanity and mental health was scrutinised and then he asked the same questions to the person who was being threatening.
To give him credit he did eventually ask him to leave, but I couldn’t work out why I was being asked the same questions as the suspect, as though the conflict was symmetrical and that I should share part of the blame.
I always thought that the Police were supposed to be citizens in uniform, who treat the public with respect. I felt like I was being undermined by having my concerns dismissed and then being accussed of having an attitude, simply for responding in an admittedly frustrated way, to a police officer who did not understand that there might be a problem with threatening behaviour.
I didn’t want to complain, simply because I don’t know whether he was in breach of conduct. He might have been insensitive, but that is very difficult to verify and even if it was, I don’t think being insensitive would be an offence.
Judging from my description do you think that the officer was wrong to ask such an unsympathetic question, and given the fact that I was clearly shaken by what just happened, don’t you think he should have taken that as a sign that I was fearful and the victim of the situation?
Thanks in advance.