Shit magnets and the Q-word

shit magnets

Are you a shit magnet? Warn your colleagues with a handy patch available from online retailers.

Just about every police officer I have ever worked with shares the same small superstition. During the shift, no one dares to say the word ‘quiet’. The sentence – “Wow, we’re having a really quiet shift” – or variations thereof, is strictly forbidden. If you do say the     Q-word, and you then get called to anything more serious than a shoplifter, you are immediately given the blame. And you will be reminded of it throughout the rest of the shift plus named and shamed to anyone who asks how your shift is going.

It is acceptable to say it five minutes out from the end of your shift when the next crew is kitted up and ready to go. You can have a little fun and say it to them then. ‘Yeah, we had a really quiet shift. Hope yours is quiet too.” Then you give a little chuckle and make yourself scarce, because you just infected their shift with the Q-word.

It’s a silly little superstition and there’s actually next to no proof that it is real. More experienced coppers know that the real way to gauge how busy your shift will be is by whether or not you are partnered up with a ‘shit magnet’. A shit magnet is an officer who, through no apparent fault of their own, is always in the middle of the action when the big jobs go down. They will start their shift by warming up with an armed robbery before finishing big with a double murder.

People skulk around in the locker rooms before their shift saying things like – “Do I have to work with [insert officer name here]? S/he’s a real shit magnet, we’re going to get smashed.”

The shit magnet will almost always deny being a shit magnet, but anyone partnered up with them will recognise it and try to bribe the roster clerk so they never work with them again. The only officers keen to work with a shit magnet are generally those with a minimum of service and an overabundance of enthusiasm, who want to ‘experience’ everything the Job has to offer. Every station needs these officers.

I myself am pleased to be an anti-shit-magnet. Through good luck rather than good management, I have a special knack for avoiding the big jobs. The officers on the shift after mine are at risk of it all going pear-shaped, because shit happens daily, just not on my watch. I haven’t managed to identify what makes me teflon-coated but when I do, I shall bottle it and become rich. In the meantime, I’ll make the most of kicking back to watch the big jobs on the local news, rather than seeing them first-hand.

I’ll make the most of my quiet shifts… damn it… I said the Q-word… I only have myself to blame now…

 

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‘A Time To Run’ update

My award winning novel ‘A Time To Run’ is now available online worldwide through Amazon, iBooks and other retailers. The second ‘Constable Sammi Willis’ novel – ‘The Twisted Knot’ will be online shortly. I’m excited to be able to offer these to an international audience after its success in Australia.

There’s not many serving police officers writing crime – I can offer an intimate insight into policing in Australia.

Buy it here or at your local online retailer.

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Guns and policing: an Australian perspective

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I’ve never had to draw my firearm in 20 years of service as a police officer.

I’ve been following the case of US police officer Mohamed Noor, who shot and killed Justine Damond after she approached his police car. The court proceedings received a bit of air-time in Australia due to Ms Damond being an Australian citizen. Also, the tragic facts of the case made for compelling subject matter.

As a police officer, I tried to put myself in Mr Noor’s position and think how I might have reacted. Night-time in a dark alleyway, a sudden noise, a figure at the side of the car.

Although I’ve been a police officer for twenty years, I’ve worked only in Australia, and there is no comparison. One crucial difference to policing in the two countries deeply impacts a situation like that – the prevalence of and attitude towards guns. That gun culture has a huge flow-on on effect to the way police approach their duties.

In twenty years, I have NEVER drawn my service weapon, except at training. I have only once been to a job where my partner has felt compelled to draw his weapon (I thought he over-reacted). From this, you can guess that I have never been confronted with a person armed with a weapon. I could count on one hand the number of times I have found a firearm at the scene after the offender is safely in cuffs.

I don’t know of any officer who wears a personal bullet proof vest. We have station-issue vests in different sizes which we put in the back of the police car. If we get sent to a job where there is a firearm involved, we stop before we get there and put the vest on. I can think of only three occasions I’ve worn it in earnest.

My experiences aren’t unusual. Guns on the street in Australia are unusual.

If I was confronted by a person in a dark alley, it wouldn’t occur to me that I might be ambushed. Sure, we’re taught that every situation is high risk or unknown risk. There is no such thing as low risk as you never know what is going to happen next. That said, I wouldn’t approach the job as if I may be randomly shot. A bang on the window would not have me reaching for my gun. That may be complacent and dangerous but, frankly, the odds are in my favour.

A Google search shows there were two police killed on duty in Australia in 2017. Of these, only one was shot. I had to go back to 2017 because there were zero shooting deaths of police in 2018 and 2019 to date. Nineteen police officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty in the USA so far this year (May 2019).

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to assume everyone you deal with is armed. It would skew every decision you made every time you dealt with anyone.

I can’t imagine how much more difficult the challenging job of policing would be with the potential threat of firearms at every job.

I can’t put myself in Mr Noor’s shoes that night because I come from a completely different policing background.

I can’t imagine being a police officer in America. I can only hope Australia’s gun laws stay strict. I want to leave my gun in its holster for the next twenty years.

Buy ‘A Time to Run’ here.