I have always been curious about police officers as well as the stations due to the fact that my Dad was the local gun smith in South Africa and I had been surrounded by policemen and women most of my life. So the invitation from Sgt. John Mahon to share a cuppa and snacks with our local police in Castlebar was just up my alley.
The day itself seem to shed its blessing on the ‘Ethnic Day’ at the Garda Station last Friday (24th August 2007). Blue skies, gentle wind as well as the friendly faces, greeted us foreign nationals who attended the open day.
Looking forward to joining everyone I wished my working day would end soon and rushed over after 4pm. To my disappointment, I walked in after everyone had left. Yet I was greeted by a friendly and helpful Sgt. Tony Cosgrove (Crime Prevention Officer), who offered to show me to where John Mahon and other personnel were enjoying a cuppa in the canteen area. The afternoon was spent chatting, covering subjects from ‘Coffee’ to ‘Baboons’ and I found myself relaxing and enjoying my time among the ‘strong arms of the law’. During the conversation I mentioned that I used to own a 38 Snub Nose in South Africa whereupon the nearest officer gave me the opportunity to hand over all dangerous weapons. I made it clear that the only ‘dangerous weapons’ I have in Ireland were my ‘ample assets’. It’s not often you see a red-faced guard. Besides, let me tell you, Sgt. Tony Cosgrove makes a killer cuppa coffee.
I still don’t know why I always feel guilty when speaking with a police officer, although I have been a ‘good gurl’ most of my life. It must have been something I did in one of my past lives. Yeah right! Well, that is my excuse and I am sticking to it.
Later that afternoon I was given the tour of the station and was amazed how organised and well run the place is. No Clint Eastwood balancing on a chair with his feet on the desk, chewing a matchstick just waiting for you to ‘make his day’. The building itself is absolutely beautiful and well organised. When I was escorted to the cell block, I did not know what to expect but those solid blue doors and enclosures are sure to convince anyone to stay on the right side of the law. I would not go into one, have never been in one and wish it to stay that way. I could just imagine the feeling when you hear that solid steel door shut behind you. A real wake up call for anyone. Don’t get me wrong, they are spacious and clean but, when that door closes behind you, you know that you have been locked up.
Speaking of the ‘strong arm of the law’, have you ever wondered how our police keep such well-toned bodies. I was very surprised to be shown the ‘gym’ or fitness room as some may call it. It was a bit on the small side but all the equipment was available and I even charmed John into demonstrating one for me. This room is not only to keep the personnel fit to chase all those ‘bad people’ but it’s also a very good place to work out the stress they face day to day. Bless them.
Walking a different kind of Beat.
Personally I think that being a police officer must be the most difficult job around. Not only must one uphold the law, but serve and protect everyone. It’s a combination of law enforcer, peace keeper, councillor and most of all someone who can make you feel all is not lost when faced with the troubles life throws at you.
The Ethnic Day was a great idea. Not only did it give us a chance to view the inside of a police station without being handcuffed. It gave a clear message, that even though we are not Irish born we are still part of the community and are welcome and protected under the same law.