A visit from across the pond
U.K. constables visit D.C., tour sheriff’s office during police week
For National Police Week this year, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office hosted six constables from Cambridgeshire, England, attending the annual candlelight vigil for fallen officers in Washington, D.C., before opening its doors to them for a full tour.
During the ceremonies last year, Det. Juan Morales met his British counterpart, Det. Constable James Howard. As it turned out, they both investigate burglaries and were fascinated by the similarities in their work and the striking differences.
“We met during the survivors’ escort during police week last year,” said Morales, adding that several officers from the CCSO honor guard wanted to get pictures with “the Bobbies.”
“We’re both police officers, just separated by the ocean. About the same age, essentially doing the same job, just differently,” he continued. “They are just synonymous with police work. When you go to police week, its one of those things, you look for these guys. They’re rockstars in the police world.”
Earlier in the month, Morales spent about a week with Howard, touring England and the Cambridgeshire Constabulary. Then, the constables flew to the U.S. for National Police Week.
Among them was Det. Constable Antony Harlow, a first-time visitor to the United States. Dressed in full uniform, when the constables first stepped out onto the streets of Washington, D.C., a group of people eating outside greeted them with a standing ovation.
“I love the place. It was brilliant,” Harlow said. “As police service, the welcome we’ve had from the moment we stepped off the plane, and the moment we walked through Washington, D.C., the reception we’ve had ... has been absolutely positive. We have thoroughly enjoyed ever y moment.”
“We don’t have the loss of officers that you do,” he added. “It was quite astounding during the candlelight vigil, the names that came up. You could feel the emotion; there’s 50,000 people around us. That was quite awe-inspiring as an English police officer to experience that, and I’m going to walk away with very positive memories from what I’ve seen and what I’ve felt.”
After the memorial service in Washington, D.C., Morales, other CCSO officers, and the constables toured White House before taking them to the sheriff’s office, where the constables met Sheriff Troy Berry (D), participated in a patrol ridealong, tested the firearms simulator, participated in a K-9 unit demonstration, visited the detention center, toured the Criminal Investigation Division, getting a feel of what police life is like in Charles County.
Of course, the biggest difference in comparison is that the constables do not carry guns, because it is not needed.
“Firearm crime is very, very low,” Harlow said. “I feel I have the luxury of not having a gun. I don’t have to worry about a firearm when I turn up to check a car … when I go to a domestic violence incident … when I stop and speak to somebody on the street for maybe a burglary inquiry.”
“It’s right at the bottom of my list of things I need to worry more about,” he continued. “I worry more about a knife, a dog ... Trust me, I’ve been chased out of gardens before, and it’s not too much fun when you’re going over a fence.”
Howard noted that in England the constables have greater authority when it comes to entering homes and conducting searches when there is probable cause, but he was impressed with how American police effectively streamline judicial processes, such as obtaining a warrant from a judge.
“I think there are a lot more restrictions around what these guys can do,” Howard said. “But the processes in which they do them are streamlined, they’re very slick, and everything works really well within each other.”
Despite the cultural differences, the constables pointed out that they face the same universal crimes, such as cyber-crime, fraud, domestic violence, child abuse, drug abuse, and more recently, issues stemming from social media.
Aside from learning about American law enforcement, the constables learned more about everyday American life.
“Everything we could experience, we tried,” said Howard, adding that they visited several monuments, tourist sites, and restaurants around the Washington, D.C., area.
“We got to experience the Washington Metro, that was quite interesting,” Harlow said, chuckling. “We got to experience some interesting driving on the way back from Washington as well; that was quite interesting. Signals seemed to be optional at certain times.”
All jokes aside, Harlow said when he gets back to England, he is going to encourage more of his fellow constables to make the trip next year.
Having visited the United States on several occasions, “I was excited to see what their reaction was going to be, and it was great,” said Howard.
“Things are little different over there, but the brotherhood is the same,” Morales said.
Cpl. Renee Cuyler watches as Constable Lewis Busby pets her K-9, Coni, who won a gold-medal at the 2015 Police/Fire World Games for excellence in detecting explosives.
Sheriff Troy Berry (D) tries on a custodian hat as six constables from the Cambridgeshire Constabulary in England visit the Charles County Sheriff’s Office during National Police Week.