My time in the force was interspaced with tales of daring do, fights, brawls, car chases, getting shot at and attacked with knives. Which brings us to the:
CASE OF THE TORTURED TESTICLES. Before anyone begins screaming police brutality, they were mine. This case began like any other, a wanted person, enthusiastic coppers and an, on my part, erroneous belief in the niceness of young girls. In many small towns there are always a hard-core group of delinquents, whose sole reason for being is to tick coppers off. You’ve seen them hanging around parks and shopping centres in school hours. They annoy everyone who crosses their path or takes their fancy and because they are juveniles know quite well the police are reluctant to arrest them. This is because of the long, involved process for usually, nil results. They are the petty thieves, taggers and drug smokers and 80% of them end up in jail as adults. I digress.
Because of my childhood, I went out of my way to try to help kids only to be crapped on time and time again. So imagine my delight when I was handed a warrant for the arrest of a 14-year-old girl on drug and stealing charges. You little beauty, a result, no slap on the wrist or don’t do it again, she was heading for detention. Our information was that she had taken up residence with a young couple newly arrived from New Zealand. Their house was in a dead-end street, backing onto a quarry covered in bushland. The plan, 4 coppers in 2 cars, 3 round the back and 1, me at the front door. Knock, knock, knock, “Arghh, bloody coppers.” Loud tramping of feet through house, back door slamming. Loud yells from my mates, “She’s coming round the front.” I must add that two of them were known as tweedle dum and tweedle dee, for obvious reasons. They huffed and puffed and the girl flew past them and headed for the front gate. We’d blocked it off with our cars.
There are some things you don’t stand in front of: speeding trains, charging bulls, lionesses and their cubs and sweet young girls who don’t want to go back to detention. In retrospect I would’ve done a few things differently: rang in sick, gone on holidays, wore a truss. Instead I said, “Come on love, don’t make it difficult, no one’s going to hurt you.” I don’t know what eduction or sporting programs she did whilst locked up, I do believe that goal kicking was one of them. My mates saw it, the couple from New Zealand saw it, even passers-by saw it coming, I didn’t. With a technique that would put Argentinian soccer player, Diego Maradona to shame, she planted her right foot straight into my testicles. I had experienced worse pain up to then but couldn’t quite bring it to mind. A flash, similar to that of an electric shock went through my brain, my mouth opened in a perfect O and not a thing came out. I was told later that I folded to the ground with some grace and decorum, my right hand in a death grip on her forearm.
It is a sad fact of life that kicks to the balls are open to mirth from witnesses to the event. And to those who hear about it. No matter how long ago it happened. I went off shift to seek medical attention and my doctor laughed about it. I wrote my report for court and the sergeant laughed. Then I went home and my now ex-wife thought it funny. There is nothing funny about sitting in the lounge, watching TV with a pack of frozen peas on your genitals. She had kicked me that hard, that if I had fathered any children after that they would’ve been born bruised. The following day we add insult to injury. When a juvenile is arrested, the arresting office gives evidence to the magistrate, usually on the following morning. Picture if you will a courtroom, closed to the public but attended by the usual officials, police, prosecutor, stenographers etc. You would think that such a group of professionals would appreciate the trials and tribulations of a copper, noooo.
My name was called and I hobbled manfully to the stand, wincing at every step. The magistrate was a nice bloke, middle-aged, wore glasses and was an upstanding member of the community. He could see my obvious distress as I gave evidence and when I got to her assault on me his face broke into a grin. You’ve heard the term, ‘a titter ran through the audience,’ usually referring to court rooms, well guffaws flowed through the courtroom. When the magistrate finally composed himself, he reduced the charge of bodily harm against the girl to one of assault police. I hobbled out of the courtroom a sadder but wiser policeman, no one, no matter how old they were ever got within kicking distance again. I had to fork out for an athletic support and walked like a penguin for the rest of the week. (A post script, the terms, ‘testify and testament’ come from the days of ancient Rome. When senators made an oath they would raise one hand and hold their testicles with the other while they spoke. I imagine the term: that sounds like a lot of old balls, may well have come from that.)
WHAT NOT TO POINT AT DRIVERS. When pulled up by the police, drivers sometimes act strangely doing extraordinary things: they accelerate away, try to ram you with their door, burst into tears, plead, threaten, cajole and try to bribe you. The majority of injuries to police come from simply pulling over drivers, especially at radar traps. At least there you have other police around. The early morning, lonely highway stops can be enlightening also. I’ve spoken about night shifts and how tiring they are, especially when you’re on the last of ten straight and there have been various start times. In that period you can guarantee that you’ve been in car chases, fights, had a death or maybe two. You’re running on fast food and adrenalin and by sunup of the last day you’re beyond knackered. This particular shift, a 12am to 8am had been hectic earlier and from 2am onwards we had to rack up the kilometres. The Boss needed figures and you had to note down and account for every kilometre you drove, the minimum on a shift was 200 kilometres. I think this may have been as a result of chicken gathering, I’m not sure.
At about 6am on this morning, the driver, Tim kept nodding off at the wheel and the car kept drifting across the centre line. I’d jump awake, hit his arm, my head would fall back against the cage behind me and I’d fall into a deep slumber again. This is not a good situation, we came close to a head on and I made him pull over. So there you had two coppers pacing up and down the highway, pumping their arms, trying to stay awake. The morning was cold and we were rugged up. Zoom! A car flies past, well over the speed limit, you beauty some action. We bound back into the car and speed off after it, adrenalin flowing, eyes wide open.
We catch up and the driver gets the message, she pulls over. It’s my turn to write a ticket. I drag myself out: adjust the hat, utility belt, jacket, arrange my trousers, and open the ticket book. The car is a sporty model and the driver has a bird’s eye view of my belt buckle. I go through the routine questioning for speeding, tell her what her obligations are and give her the ticket. All the while her eyes never leave my buckle. She snatches the ticket from me, raises her head, glares at me and calls me a pervert before driving off. Shrugging I wander back to the car, Tim stares at me open-mouthed. I get to my door and he bursts out laughing, “You’re not getting back in here with that sticking up.” Puzzled I look down, you guessed it. The front of my pants are sticking right out, I was that tired I didn’t realise I had an erection. The driver did and wrote a complaint. Over time I’d had to shove my revolver in a driver’s face, a fist (in self-defence) my torch and none of them complained. But you get just one erection……