“What I find is that people say ‘great you’re in the cops’ and they’re so excited, and you hear other cops saying ‘yeah it’s great’, but they neglect to tell you what it’s really, really like.”
Senior Constable Jones has been a police officer for six and a half years. We’ve had lunch and now she’s driving me back to the train station.
She knows I’m writing this article, and looks at me, concerned. “I don’t want to be so negative.” She turns back to the road. “I think a lot of people join thinking it’s very glamorous, and because it’s an authority type of work. I didn’t join for that reason.”
So why did you join? “I was in a long-term relationship, we were barely making ends meet. I thought it was my turn to put something into the relationship, keep up my end of the bargain. I also wanted to do something with my life. I felt just being a housewife I wasn’t appreciated, and I also wanted to do something that would help people.” So SC Jones went to Charles Sturt University and undertook a Bachelor of Justice Studies (Policing).
Does she enjoy being a copper? “Yes and no.” What does she enjoy?
For a while she stares out the window, silent. “When you actually know you can help someone. Once, I went out to a domestic violence incident and helped this woman, and she called me a few months later to thank me. I was very taken back by that – very surprised by it – but it gave me a good feeling that I had helped.”
That must have been nice to hear. She nods. “But you usually get abused.” Is this what you don’t like about the job? Again, she nods. “The paperwork, the long hours, but – yeah – the lack of thanks. Not that you do it so people go, oh you’ve done a great job, but you get a phone call and just expect it to be complaining complaining complaining, but instead there’s someone saying ‘you came to my house a few months ago and you really helped me and I want to thank you so much.’ It’s nice to know that you’re appreciated.”
Suddenly SC Jones laughs. ‘Coppers have feelings too, you know.”
We stop at the lights. I’m about to ask another question when she again turns to me, serious. “You have so much to give to other people, and you can help them because you in that position, but it always falls on deaf ears and you never know what happens to that person. So when they ring it’s just really nice.”
I ask how hard is it to take off the belt, go home and just be Ms Jones.
“You have days off but it’s so hard to unwind. It just feels like you are always at work. You’ve got the people that you meet when you’re off duty and they say ‘what you do for a job?’ and you tell them and they immediately change, they’re not themselves, and you think: Ahh… this sucks!”
Well, I tell her, I’m gonna go and hug the first copper I see.
PC Jones laughs again, this time much longer. “You may need to ring me so I can come and bail you out.”