Why be a Police Officer?

A personal reflection by Graham Choldcroft,
Assistant Lead Chaplain, Thames Valley Police 

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The late John Hopkins, playwright and screen writer of over 90 episodes of Z Cars, once posed the question 'Why be a policeman?'

'They confront the full range of darkness.'' he wrote. 'Their life is a constant confrontation with horror. We ask from them a commitment to our safety and livelihood, and we say, "you will do that for us, it all comes with the territory of being a policeman," but we don't pay them the respect of understanding what a cost it is to them, how much in terms of ordinary life they sacrifice to be our guardians.'[1]

Over the last few years I have frequently asked myself the same question. As I have walked alongside them through years of austerity, seen ever-increasing demands placed upon them in the face of ever-reducing resources, it has been my privilege to witness time and time again, the compassion and commitment of officers throughout the police family. I have witnessed the changing face of policing. Murders and violent crime now seem all too frequent, and fatalities on our roads so common as to be virtually unnewsworthy.


There is a verse in scripture to the effect 'greater love has no-one than to lay down their life for a friend,' a sentiment often seen repeated on war memorials, where military personnel have made that ultimate, unrepeatable sacrifice.  

The Thames Valley Police motto sit pax in Valle Tamesis expresses a longing for peace in Thames Valley, a longing which is perhaps universal, and which is eloquently expressed in this prayer by the late Maya Angelou, poet and human rights activist:

Father Mother God, thank You for Your presence during the hard mean days.

For then we have You to lean upon.

 Thank you for Your presence during the bright and sunny days, for

then we can share that which we have with those who have less.

 And thank You for Your presence during the Holy Days, for then

we are able to celebrate You and our families and our friends.

 For those who have no voice, we ask You to speak.

 For those who feel unworthy; we ask You to pour Your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.

 For those who live in pain, we ask You to bathe them in the river of Your healing.

 For those who are lonely we ask You to keep them company.

 For those who are depressed, we ask You to shower upon them the light of hope.

 Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask You to give to all the world that which we need most -Peace.



[1] Quoted by Simon Farquhar in his book, A Dangerous Place, 2016, Stroud, Glos., The History Press

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