THE contrast between the most senior officers in the police service and those who daily put their lives at risk could not have been viewed in greater relief than last week.
I refer of course to detective constable Cathy Corbett who, as I write this article, is clinging to life after being callously run down and seriously injured whilst doing her duty and Sir Ian Blair, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, who refuses to leave office even though the force he commands has been found guilty of putting the public at risk.
In the former we see an act of bravery, one which would have gone unnoticed had it not ended the way in did.
Police constables have an unenviable and difficult task which they perform day in and out without question.
Whilst I have been critical of those who command them I have never lost respect or admiration for the junior ranks within the police service.
I believe the politicising of the police has undermined our respect for the young men and women who put their lives at risk for us and undertake tasks we would shy away from.
Politicians now score points off them, which is why the majority of time we read only of their failings or the deeds they perform badly.
Our impressions are largely based on what the media tell us which is often misleading because they are partial to the argument of one particular political party.
It is true the "bobby" of today is different to those in former days but that is the case in most professions. However we should never blame the individual for this.
Even though constables are under much closer scrutiny and subject to far greater controls than when I was a young officer, they still confront dangerous and violent people; sweep up the dregs of our society; inform us of the death of a loved one; support us in our grief after road accidents, and investigate crimes committed against us.
They are always subject to danger, often from the unexpected source. With increased access to knives and firearms the most innocuous inquiry may result in their serious injury or death. This appears to be the case in the incident involving Cathy Corbett.
Unlike their military colleagues, police officers never know where danger lies, especially as more and more people are crazed on drugs and alcohol.
Neither can gender or age be their yardstick as the reaction to authority from women and children is no longer predictable.
The modern police constable does his or her duty without fear or favour. They place themselves in jeopardy every time they venture out in uniform and we should never forget that.
We should be proud of them and the work they do, which is not the case for some of those who lead them.
As a "fast-track" academic, I doubt Sir Ian Blair was ever subjected to the dangers his officers face. On appointment he was very quick to tell us of his strengths and the qualities he would bring to the largest police force in this country.
However, under his leadership that force has been found wanting, not due to individual officers but the organisations and systems within which they operate.
An innocent young man was killed and for the reputation of the police service and out of respect of his own officers, he should now resign.