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15 October 2012

Dealing with the pain

by Tony Gale, chair of council at the Christian Police Association

Speaking after the annual National Police Memorial Service held at York Minster recently, Mr Beshenivsky the widower of a murdered police officer, said memorial services for officers killed on duty provided a “moment to remember” and "helped deal with the pain”.

Mr Beshenivsky's wife, PC Sharon Beshenivsky, was shot during a call-out to investigate a robbery in Bradford in 2005.

The recent murders in Greater Manchester of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes have added to the sadness felt by colleagues in Greater Manchester Police following the murder of committed Christian DC Stephen Oake in 2003, defending a colleague during an anti-terrorist raid.

The murders of these police officers along with other deaths ‘in the line of duty’ are among many recorded on the Police Roll of Honour Trust’s website. www.policememorial.org.uk
In addition to the National Police Memorial Service held at different locations around the UK each year, some police forces have also started to hold their own services.

In my role with the Christian Police Association I was invited to the Police Memorial Service at St Peter's Church Nottingham, held the week before the service at York. 

During the service, a uniformed officer in the ‘colour party’ got down on one knee and presented the police flag to the minister. The minister in turn then laid the flag on the ‘drum head’ that had been set by the altar. A police helmet and a policewoman's hat were placed alongside the flag on the drum head. This simple ceremony was very moving and even though I did not know any of the officers' names who were read out later during the service, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. 

It has been said many times that the police service is a family, and we all feel the loss of colleagues.

During our work in the police service we deal with many desperately sad situations, and we learn to suppress emotions. But our Lord Jesus Christ provides clear evidence of how he reacted to death and grieving in the Bible’s shortest verse. After talking to Lazarus' grieving sisters and seeing his friends weeping, Jesus was deeply troubled and moved. He asked where Lazarus had been laid and when he went to see, “Jesus wept”. (John 11:35).

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Peter Fahy said: “The chance for me personally to be able, every day, to have bit of quiet time, pray, think about your own values, your own sense of vocation, and to examine your own conscience I think is really, really important." 

He added: "You do often feel so helpless, so praying for the dead officers, praying for their families, becomes your own reaction, your own expression of hope really for them, at a time of great need."

Opportunities to pause, reflect and express how we feel in times of loss are greatly needed, especially where feelings have been suppressed in order that we can ‘get on with the job’. So these memorial services not only honour and remember those that are part of a family, but they allow us to release our feelings, and help us in our own journey.