When our officers pass out after their initial training, they pledge to protect and serve the people of Essex. And they do so throughout their careers.
This means helping people, keeping them safe and catching criminals. The work they do every day to investigate crime and bring people to justice is more widely known than their work to help you and keep you safe.
Our Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington commends officers and staff who put themselves in harm’s way to protect people and to save lives. A Chief Constable’s Commendation is one of the highest honours he can bestow.
Last week, in a COVID-Secure presentation, Mr Harrington was able to commend Sgt Will Bowen and PC Andy Perry for their bravery and quick-thinking actions which undoubtedly saved the life of a woman in the sea off Clacton and for putting the lives of others before their own.
On the night of 28 December 2020, Will and Andy, who were both on Clacton Local Policing Team, responded to reports of a woman and a man drowning in the sea off Clacton.
Without hesitation and with disregard for their own personal safety, the officers ventured out into the rough, icy water with only their torches to light the way in their search.
While Will successfully located the woman, Andy was searching for the man. However, it transpired that, despite the report, there was only one person in the water so, once Andy had ascertained this, he went back into the water to assist Will in rescuing the woman.
Once they had got her to the safety of the shore, both officers delivered first aid and ensured she was kept warm and alert until paramedics arrived.
“As it was late at night during the winter, the main thing going through my head was just how cold it was. “Once I was in the water, I called out to the woman but struggled to catch my breath because of the cold. I could see she was no longer moving but I managed to pick her up and knew we would need to commence CPR as soon as we got her to safer ground. “PC Perry helped me get her out of the water and we made sure she was still breathing, in a comfortable position and as warm as possible to stop her catching hypothermia. Thankfully paramedics arrived shortly after, along with other colleagues, and we were able to pass her over into their care. “I felt majorly relieved when it was confirmed she was the only person in the water and that she would make a full recovery. “This type of incident is rare but it is the reason many of us join this job - to help people when they desperately need it.” Sergeant Will Bowen
Andy is now a children and young persons officer with the community policing team. He said they could see the woman clearly in the water about 20ft out so, first, they used a throwing line but she was unable to grab it.
With the tide coming in close to the sea wall, they both made the decision to take off their body armour and wade into the sea, Will to rescue the woman and Andy to search for the man. Once he realised there was no-one else in the water, Andy went to help Will.
“We didn’t think about our own safety. We were aware other units and an ambulance were on route but our priority was getting the woman out of the water and then getting her dry and warm. “We carried her up the stairs as there was no room on the beach and wrapped her up with every bit of dry clothing we had left and carried on speaking to her to keep her, reassuring her that further help was on the way. “Adrenaline takes over and it was only afterwards I thought about the what ifs, how dangerous the sea can be and how cold it really was. “It is always nice to get a pat on the back for a job well done but to be recognised and awarded by the Chief Constable is that little bit more special as it shows the big boss appreciates the hard work, determination and risks we take on the front line to keep Essex safer and protect our residents.” PC Andy Perry
Mr Harrington says it is a privilege to be able to present Chief Constable’s Commendations to officers who have gone above and beyond in the course of their duties.
“I ask officers to help people and keep them safe and the officers I have commended have done exactly that. “They, quite literally, jumped in to save lives in some extremely tough and demanding conditions. “How many people going home from work can say ‘I saved someone’s life’?” Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington
Have Will and Andy inspired you?
People from all walks of life are applying to join Essex Police and everyone is welcome if you share our values and want to help people and protect and serve our communities.