HEROIC and hardworking police officers and staff from Swindon and Wiltshire have received well-deserved awards and recognition from their grateful bosses.

The annual ceremony where Wiltshire Police heaps praise and glittering honours on some exceptional employees returned this week in a virtual version of the usual event.
Police often put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public and the awards shine a spotlight on a few examples of this selfless work.

Among them were brave cops who went into a burning building to rescue a woman trapped inside, a police constable who saved the life of a vulnerable motorist who was heading to the M4 to harm himself, and a tactical team effort to catch and arrest the catapult-wielding driver of a stolen car as it headed into the county and he tried to flee on foot.

The force praised increased efforts to tackle rural crime around Wiltshire’s countryside and an officer who created a clever bit of new kit which helps find missing people.
At the ceremony, chief constable Kier Pritchard paid tribute to the dedication, skill and professionalism shown by emergency service workers who went above and beyond the course of duty.

He said: “It is always a huge privilege for me to host these awards and I am delighted to recognise and celebrate some of the amazing achievements of our police officers, police staff and partners here in Wiltshire Police.

“I am immensely proud and grateful to be surrounded and supported by some incredibly talented, driven and brilliant individuals – those who display the core values and behaviours of our police force and demonstrate the true meaning of public service.

“I have no doubt that like me, everyone in our communities will be filled with pride to hear about the outstanding policing and partnership work that happens every day in our county.”

Police constable Chloe Jenkins received the chief constable’s commendation after putting her own safety at risk to step in and save the life of a vulnerable motorist while on patrol.

Last July, a man pulled up alongside her, wound down his window and told her he was about to harm himself – then sped off towards the M4.

Despite being alone with no backup, PC Jenkins immediately used her radio to update colleagues elsewhere on what had just happened, managed to keep calm enough to clearly describe where the driver was going, followed him until the car stopped then kept him safe until those colleagues arrived.

A police spokesman said: “With no regard for her own safety, she acted quickly and with immense bravery to physically stop the man from harming himself.

“She made swift, life-saving decisions, and her tenacity and professionalism enabled her to save this person’s life and get them the support they needed when they were at their most vulnerable.

“We thank her for the bravery and exceptional professionalism she displayed in saving the life of an extremely vulnerable member of our community. 

“Her actions – which involved risking her own safety to help someone else – are the embodiment of the force values and something to be immensely proud of.”

Along with impressive solo efforts like that, the awards highlighted the outstanding teamwork of the crime and communications centre team and National Police Air Service

PC Darren Willis, crime and communications supervisor Ian Tyler, critical incident manager Alan Webb, incident control operator Sharon Mackenzie are in the former group while Captain James Morrey and tactical flight officers Robert Kelly and Marcus Jones are in the latter group.

They both sprang into action to work together on May 2 2020 when Wiltshire Police received word that a stolen vehicle was heading into the county, with officers from a neighbouring force and the NPAS in hot pursuit.

Once in Wiltshire, the vehicle eventually came to a stop but the driver and female passenger fled on foot.

Officers quickly caught and arrested the woman but the driver, who was well-known to police and had been “extremely violent” to officers in the past – continued to elude them.

He used a catapult to continually fire at officers who were in pursuit. The NPAS supported the officers on the ground  who eventually got close enough to detain and arrest the driver.

The police spokesman added: “It is thanks to the determination and skill of the NPAS team that police were able to make this arrest. 

“They ensured they were able to maintain observation, re-locating the suspect several times, all while gathering key evidence and providing a clear commentary throughout this incident to allow officers from three different forces to locate and continue the pursuit.

“This was an extremely complex case for the Crime and Communications Centre involving multiple forces and spread over two different control rooms, with information arriving through several channels including other police forces, the NPAS via phone, ANPR and radio transmissions.

“We want to thank everyone involved for the hard work and professionalism they demonstrated on that day, helping to bring the incident to a close in a safe and timely manner.”