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Dawn Irwin Trains Roller Cops in London
An article by Dawn Irwin, Director
of Instructor Training for the
United Kingdom Inline Skating Association.
From Dawn Irwin in April of 2000...
I thought I would tell you about the launch of the first ever
Inline Skating Police Force in the United Kingdom. It is the
Royal Parks Constabulary.
I had the idea for a roller cop patrol way back in 1996 after
two "incidents" which made national press and which were
erroneously reported by the gutter journalists. These incidents
have been referred to time and time again because unfortunately
they will remain for ever more in the cuttings. They sparked off
a knee jerk reaction which resulted in bans in some parks and
serious gravelling (tar and chip) throughout the others in an
effort to "stop the bladers".
Anyway, it remained just an idea until May 1997 when I came to
the US to do my Examiner training with the IISA. I saw the first
ever Hypno transport skates and suddenly my idea began to take
on some semblance of reality. On that same training course was
John Kuch, a law enforcement officer from Fairfax VA.
Through 1998 I witnessed the evolving of the transport skate
and finally, around February 1999 I Emailed John as I wanted
to put my idea in writing, but needed some law enforcement
type input. "Funny you should ask" he said, as he had been
thinking the same thing for about the same number of years
and in fact had prepared something which he felt I might be
interested in reading. John and I basically colluded on a
proposal that would suit the Royal Parks Police Force and I
submitted it on 4th April 1999. Eleven months later I got
the go ahead to begin training the guys, and now they're up
and rolling and it's just - well, fantastic. Over the course
of these eleven months I also had valuable input from my very
good friend and IISA Examiner Katina Salafatinos who trains
the Miami police.
John came over to London to help me with the launch, and it
was so successful that I/we are still reeling from the fallout.
We were on approximately ten TV shows (including the US),
approximately 16 newspapers (all the nationals and some local),
approximately 8 radio shows and some of the professional police
newsletters/magazines and some UK inline trade magazines.
It was a hectic three days, starting with the Monday which
was blistering hot, but then it decided to dump down on
Tuesday and Wednesday (press days). Good old British weather!!
Still, everything was arranged and we had no choice but to
go ahead, even though we absolutely do NOT advocate skating
in wet conditions. Thankfully the photos don't reflect the
fact that conditions weren't ideal. We had a hell of a clean
up job to do on our skates, though!
The award for outstanding Dude of the week went to my good
friend and fellow IISA instructor Andy Moran who arranged
for us to have the Rollerblade Derby skates on time, after
the Hypno distributors pulled out without telling me!!!
The Derby has now become the recognised Police Skate, and
I just hope Rollerblade keep making 'em.
We finally got John back to Heathrow at an ungodly hour on
the Thursday morning and I'm sure he didn't know whether
it was "raining or Ash Wednesday" (UK saying) as he was so
exhausted. Needless to say, when my "other half" dropped
me back at home all my plans for that day flew swiftly out
the window as I collapsed with exhaustion!!!!!!
From the point of view of skating in Hyde Park and Kensington
Gardens, this is a huge step. Having the "establishment"
skating could lead to several things: namely breaking
down the barriers of prejudice that have been fostered
by the gutter journalists; maybe re-tarmaccing some of
the "banned" pathways and maybe even lifting the bans
in some of the other parks. All we need now is a couple of
really positive stories to help foster good relations,
as naturally some (but just a minor few) journalists have
tried to poke fun and find holes in the scheme. Anyway,
only time will tell, and now when I'm teaching in the
Park, and I see some criminal activity going on, at least
I'm in mobile phone contact with the skating police who
won't be too far away.
Best wishes to everyone from London, UK.
IISA Level 2
Former IISA Examiner
Director of Instructor Training
United Kingdom Inline Skates
Association since May 1999
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