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Freeze! Drop the Water Pistol and Put Your Hands in the Air!

Inspector Haddock gets his man

By Brendan DonaghyPublished 3 months ago Updated 2 months ago 5 min read
Freeze! Drop the Water Pistol and Put Your Hands in the Air!
Photo by Oliver Hale on Unsplash

The Metropolitan police have admitted that a 13-year-old boy was rammed off his bike and handcuffed by armed police, who pointed their submachine guns at him. The boy was having a water fight with his sibling on 19 July when a police officer on patrol reported a potential firearms incident. (BBC, 20/10/23)

There was a knock on the door. Inspector Bob Haddock, Scotland Yard’s longest-serving police officer, re-ordered the papers in front of him and placed his spectacles on top.

“Come in.”

The door opened and a young man in uniform entered the room. He walked to the front of the desk and saluted.

“Probationary Constable Walter Whitty. You wanted to see me, sir.”

“Sit down, Whitty. Do you know why I wanted to see you?”

Whitty frowned. “I’m not sure, sir, but if this is about my application to join the Armed Response Unit, I withdrew that yesterday. I’ve been very disappointed with their attitude in the dealings I’ve had with them recently.”

Haddock pulled a sympathetic face. As sympathetic faces go, it wasn’t great. It looked more like the face of someone trying hard not to laugh. “I’m sure the ARU will be devastated by the news, but that’s not why I called you in. I wanted to discuss some of the callouts you attended last week. Let’s start with Monday’s incident.”

“The one involving the kids on their bikes, sir?”

“Were you involved in any other incidents on Monday that made international headlines?”

Whitty took a second to consider the matter. “No, sir. Not on Monday.”

“That must be the one, then. Tell me why you needed to call in the ARU.”

Whitty seemed surprised by the question. “I’d have thought that was fairly obvious, sir, no offence intended.”

Haddock smiled a smile that was colder than an Arctic wind. “No offence taken, Whitty. Please continue.”

“Well, sir, when I arrived on the scene, the suspects were — ”

The Inspector interrupted. “What exactly were these kids suspected of doing?”

Whitty brightened visibly. “Reckless endangerment, sir. Worst case I’ve ever seen. They were cycling up and down the pavement, across gardens, in and out between parked cars. Unbelievable stuff.”

Haddock’s left eyebrow shot up. “So you called in armed response to deal with two teenagers dicking about on their bikes?”

Whitty looked shocked. “No sir. Absolutely not, sir. It was only when I saw they were armed that I realised I needed backup.”

“But they weren’t armed, Whitty! They were playing with water pistols!”

Whitty shook his head. “I couldn’t be sure of that sir, not from where I was standing.”

“You couldn’t tell the difference between real firearms and — Haddock put on his glasses and consulted the papers in front of him — a couple of green plastic Super Soakers?”

Whitty looked resolute. “The training college taught us to call in armed response if we had any concerns about guns. If in doubt, call them out, that’s what we were told. So when — ”

Haddock ignored him and turned over a page. “You also called in armed support on Tuesday?”

Whitty nodded. “For the bank robbery, that is correct, sir.”

“Except that it wasn’t a bank robbery, was it Whitty? It was a gang of builders working in the shop next door to the bank. The robber with the Uzi submachine gun you reported was a joiner with a cordless drill.”

“That is also, correct, sir, although obviously, I had to make my assessment in real time. Once again, I was guided by my training. If in doubt, call them out. I had to take into account the risk to the general public.”

Haddock looked over the top of his glasses and smiled his ice-cold smile again. “And what risk would that have been? The risk of seeing a bunch of overweight brickies showing too much arse-crack?”

The light of realisation was dawning in Whitty’s eyes. “Have I been called in for a rollicking, sir?”

“Well deduced, Whitty! Maybe you should be a detective.”

Whitty beamed. “That’s something I was hoping to talk — ”

“Tell me about the elderly gentleman you tasered on Wednesday.”

Whitty breathed deeply. “He was standing in the front garden of a house in Clapham Street waving a knife in the air.”

Inspector Haddock glanced down at his papers. “He was gardening. His wife says he was pruning the roses.”

“I couldn’t have known that sir. There was an elderly lady in the vicinity, and I feared for her safety.”

Haddock turned over a sheet of paper and continued reading. “That elderly lady was the man’s wife. According to her, she was standing beside her husband when you stepped out from behind the rhododendrons and zapped him with 1500 volts.”

“I followed procedure, sir. I told the suspect to drop the knife and put his hands in the air. Not only did he fail to comply, but he replied with some foul and abusive language.”

Inspector Haddock checked his notes again. “His wife says he advised you it was a gardening knife and told you to stop being — and I quote — 'such a silly sausage’. That’s hardly foul and abusive language, is it Whitty? Maybe it is if you're vegetarian. Are you vegetarian?”

“No sir, I just object to being called a silly sausage while I'm carrying out my lawful duties, sir.”

“On the plus side, the ARU wasn’t involved on this occasion. But you did call them, didn’t you?”

Whitty folded his arms and looked at the floor. “Yes sir.”

“And what did they tell you?”

Whitty said nothing.

“They told you to fuck off and stop wasting their time, didn’t they?”

Whitty remained silent. Inspector Haddock gathered his papers and put them in the folder. “I think I’ve heard enough. I’ve been wondering what to do with you when your probationary period ends. Fortunately, these recent incidents have clarified my thinking.”

Whitty looked hopeful. “Detective training, sir? I appreciate that there may be a few people ahead of me in the queue —”

“Right now, Whitty, Susie the sniffer dog is ahead of you in the queue. I’m assigning you to the Community Liaison Branch. A few hours a week with the kids at the paintball centre will teach you what a toy gun looks like, with any luck.”

Haddock noticed the young man’s downcast expression. “Cheer up, man, you’ll enjoy it! They might even let you shout out the numbers on bingo nights at the old folks’ home.”

“I’m not sure I'd be any good at that, sir. I’m not great with numbers.”

Haddock shook his head. “Nonsense, Whitty! You’ll be fine! And when it comes to the numbers, just remember your training."

Whitty looked at him blankly. Haddock smiled that icy smile.

“If in doubt, call them out!”


About the Creator

Brendan Donaghy

'Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man - there's your diamond in the rough.' Larry David

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Comments (3)

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  • Jay Kantor3 months ago

    Hi Brendan - We've been 'Bunkmates' (metaphorically speaking) in the 'Humor' Department so often I thought I'd touchbase with you. I've been following your 'eclectic' stories and *I've subscribed with please anxiously awaiting what you may present to us next. Brendan, I don't quite know what part of the globe you live in. It's so very cool how far we reach out from this marvelous vm platform. But, here in HollyWeird 'Real' guns are no joke: Such a shame! Jay, Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Village Community -

  • Kendall Defoe 3 months ago

    I laugh to keep from crying sometimes. This was fantastic! Potential Top Story? ;)

  • Mary Haynes3 months ago

    That was amazing! I love the way the dialogue painted the entire picture. The one up building of the comedy was something worthy of Carol Burnett and Tim Conway! I look forward to reading more!

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