I have enormous respect for police. I used to be one. But it’s increasingly obvious they just don’t have the resources to cope with exploding demands on their services. Here’s the latest case in point.
A Saturday night ‘after-party’ in Melbourne’s outer east proved very difficult.
The party home had no front fence and was exposed to a busy highway. But we had proper alcohol management and enough parents and security to keep 100 young guests safe.
At 1.33 am, a very aggressive man who’d been hovering around the front of the property approached. He was big, stocky, late 40s and very drunk – with another glass of booze in his hand.
I asked what he was up to and told me to ‘F*ckin’ mind my own business!’ Taking an instant dislike to my male security colleague, the man said he wanted to take him on and kill him.
Clear & present danger
My long experience told me this guy had been around and presented a real danger. Though largely incoherent, he was obviously annoyed the party was noisy and he started making more threats.
I didn’t activate my camera as I believed that would set him off. So I called 000 for police assistance, at which time the man wandered away.
20 minutes later he returned. I was now out the front with the party’s host parent, having asked my colleague to stay close but inconspicuous. The man was even more drunk, agitated and abusive.
He said if he came back in 30 minutes, he’d cause problems. Though I couldn’t reason with him, I did get him to wander off again.
Meanwhile, the host parent and I established a Plan B to get all guests in the house if needed.
At 1.45 am I rang 000 a second time to relay the situation.
20 minutes later, the man was back. Swigging a can of bourbon, he was now paraletic and ropable. I explained that the party had ended, tried to appease him and sent him on his way yet again. He staggered up the road.
Third time unlucky
At this point, 15 males walked across the road to the house. When I challenged them, they said they were not gatecrashers but merely out for a walk!
Strangely, they all knew the host and that there was a party. To my great relief, when I told them the party was under surveillance, they kept walking.
At 1.55 am I rang 000 a third time. This time, the phone rang out!
At 2.05 am I range the local police watch house to see if the van were available. The member I spoke to didn’t know where it was.
20 minutes later, a police van did arrive, having travelled far out of its area to attend one of my earlier 000 calls. By this time, of course, the aggressive drunk was gone. Although I’d managed to diffuse the situation myself, it could easily have turned very nasty.
The police apologised for taking so long but explained that all units serving the three big surrounding suburbs were tied up.
They told me to ring 000 again if I wanted them back.
But of course, they couldn’t promise a swift response if my colleague, the host parent and I found ourselves wrestling with the same (or another!) large, aggressive drunk.
And if he got past us, what of the kids inside?
Please hold …
We needed backup, fast – but we couldn’t get it.
Think about it: how long could you struggle with or restrain a powerful intruder until police arrived?
Some people scoff when I say today’s parties need an intermediary service (i.e. a security team).
But these detractors, safe in their armchairs and far from the coalface, can’t possibly appreciate how many hosts rely solely on overworked police to rescue their events from chaos.
Saturday’s party host was wise to retain my services as an extra line of defence.
Naomi Oakley, Founder, Safe Partying Australia.