Northern Ireland

PSNI officer: 'When changing a blood stained uniform mid-shift is part of the job'

PSNI officers
Image caption On the beat: A police officer describes the harsh reality of life in the job

Wearing a police uniform does not make you a robot, a police officer has said.

"Putting on a uniform does not take away our thoughts or feelings," the officer wrote in a Facebook post.

It followed debate over last weekend's comment on Twitter by the PSNI chief constable.

The Twitter user had challenged George Hamilton's call for people to consider a career in policing.

In reply, the chief constable advised the user to "dry your eyes, do the job or move on". He later apologised for that tweet.

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Media captionGeorge Hamilton: PSNI chief apologises over 'dry your eyes' tweet

The issue was aired on The Nolan Show earlier this week and, in response to that debate, a police officer published a hard hitting post on Lisburn PSNI's Facebook page on Wednesday.

"We are just like you, we are not flawless, we are not emotionless", the officer said.

"It does not stop us from relating to people and their pain, does not stop us from going home and looking at our children and thinking 'What if?' or 'How could someone?' "

The post describes the trauma of having to deal with death by suicide, rape and child abuse.

The officer said a caller to the Nolan Show, who gave his name as Steven, had argued that police officers should get on with it "suck it up and stop their whinging".

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption The PSNI officer's post on Facebook

Then, in the Facebook post, the officer listed the kind of pain witnessed regularly in the job.

"I, like my colleagues, am not that naive not to realise that when we joined this job that part of it was going to include what many would consider the horrors of life," the post reads.

"It didn't take long before having to witness a family fall apart as their teenage daughter was receiving CPR after hanging herself and a wife scrambling to get to her husband in a smashed-up car who's already dead.

"I've been to houses where women have been raped and where children have been abused and, more than once, have had to change out of a blood-stained uniform mid shift after dealing with a bad assault or a person that had been knocked down and lay dying as we tried to stop the flow of blood.

"I've watched as colleagues have returned from a cot death keeping a brave face but needing to take that little bit of time to themselves with a cup of tea before continuing on, because the calls don't stop and the next person looking us, through no fault of their own, doesn't think what we've just come from."

It is not all bad. The police are trained to deal with traumatic events and there is support for them, said the officer.

But when they talk about situations they face, they're "not whinging", the officer said, "It's human".

"Putting on a uniform does not take away our thoughts or feelings, does not stop us from relating to people and their pain, does not stop us from going home and looking at our children and thinking 'What if?' or 'How could someone?' "

The Facebook post ends: "We are not flawless, we are not emotionless and, at times, some of us may need help too. What job someone does should not matter."

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