By Jessica Cuthbert 
 
 
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 (Waring - contains graphic detail some readers might find distressing) 
 
From brutal bashings and traumatic deaths to marriage breakdowns and suicide attempts. A former WA Police Force officer covers these topics and more in her book, It Was the Best of Days, It Was the Worst of Days, a compilation of short stories by 13 past and present coppers.
 
The honest and raw memoir relays the realities of policing from the perspectives of a baker's dozen of people with knowledge of the job, juxtaposing their best days with their worst days for maximum contrast.
 
The book's author, Dee Simpson, attained the rank of senior constable before she quit the WA Police Force after almost 14 years of service. She wasn't surprised to read about the WA Police Force's record-high numbers of resignations and record-low levels of morale.
 
The terse tales of each officer and Dee’s own account spotlight the extremes of policing – the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
 
Dee told Police News she left the WA Police Force and found she wanted to share not only her experiences but also those of other officers to explain what it’s really like to be a copper because the public doesn't know the occupation's impacts on personal and professional lives.
 
The following text contains excerpts from the book, many of which are graphic and may distress some readers. For privacy reasons, Dee has changed all the names and locations mentioned in her publication.
 
An officer arrives home from work. Today was a good day. A missing woman in her 80s has been found safe and sound thanks to teamwork.
 
Another officer, Lauren, describes one of her best days, which started when she received a job about a missing 12-year-old boy. Sadly, it was later discovered the child had experienced maltreatment in his home.
 
After the boy was found, Lauren ensured WA's then Department of Child Protection monitored the household moving forwards. Lauren was passionate about helping the family rather than punishing them. Instead of charging the boy's mother with child neglect and abuse, Lauren talked her into attending a rehabilitation facility at which she received expert assistance for her drug and alcohol issues, plus she sat parenting classes as part of the agreement she'd struck to avoid charges.
 
Lauren followed the family's progress but eventually had to move on to other cases. Twelve months later, a relative of the mother she'd helped recognised Lauren in the street and stopped her for a chat, telling her the family was doing well and the mum had made great strides, which she attributed to her input. The family member thanked Lauren for what the relatives of the boy and his mother thought was a miracle. In that moment, Lauren smiled. It was a good day to be a police officer.
 
Throughout Dee’s book, police officers share their "good day" stories, which include personal yarns about rescuing children from a hostage situation, saving a young boy who'd severed an artery in his wrist and talking a loving husband and devoted father out of taking his life.
 
But the unpredictable nature of policing means an officer's best day can turn into an officer's worst day in the blink of an eye. Dee Simpson2
 
In the book, Jason shared the story of his 'worst day'. 
 
Jason left home for work but not before planting a kiss on his wife's cheek and saying goodbye to his young daughter. It wasn't long before Jason attended a job involving an injured three-year-old toddler. A man had called the ambulance service claiming he'd hurt a baby.
 
When Jason and his partner entered the house, they noticed a girl with blonde curly hair lying on beanbag. She was wearing silk pyjamas and watching The Wiggles on TV. She had a towel between her legs.
 
Jason remembers catching his throat as an ambulance officer brushed past him to reach the baby girl. Jason tried not to assume what he suspected he was about to hear about the scene in front of him. Jason and his partner walked towards a man, who was sitting with his head in his hands. He proceeded to tell the officers he'd had sex with his girlfriend's baby to get back at her for leaving him for the day.
 
All the while Jason was fuming on the inside, he continued to do his job professionally. In his opinion, this male was the lowest form of filth he had ever encountered, and he wanted him to rot in hell, but he knew he had to keep that opinion to himself, at least for now. 
 
Later that day when he got home, Jason took his young daughter from his wife’s arms and gave her the biggest cuddle. A tear rolled down Jason's face and he blew a raspberry on her belly as she giggled. It was that sound that washed away the pain of his tortuous day. 
 
It's just one of the many shocking accounts in Dee’s book, shining a light on the truths of policing and further, she says, explaining why police resignations are so high and police morale is so low.
 
Dee told Police News she was inspired to put pen to paper after reading extensive criticism of police officers, particularly on social media.
 
"I knew I wanted to write a book. I just didn't know what I wanted to write a book about. It wasn’t until after I'd quit the WA Police Force and saw all the criticism that I thought, hang on, these people have no idea what's it’s like being in the uniform, they haven’t got a clue," she said.
 
Dee signed up with the WA Police Force in 2005 because she wanted a career in which she could have a positive impact on the community. As a child, Dee experienced her first touchpoints with the WA Police Force in heart-breaking circumstances when, in the space of 82 days, officers knocked on the door of her family home to deliver the news her father and brother had died after being involved in separate car accidents.
 
While Dee remembers some rewarding days in the job, she says bullying, injuries and inadequate support from the WA Police Force overshadowed them, which led to her accepting a redundancy package in 2018.
 
"If I'd known how I'd be treated in my role, how much time I'd lose from my family life and how little support I'd receive from my WA Police Force bosses, I wouldn't have joined the agency in the first place," she said.
 
"There are so many different types of leaders and leadership styles in the WA Police Force. Some are really good, and some are really bad. Unfortunately, I experienced more than a few terrible ones."
 
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Dee's WA Police Force career ended after she sustained an injury on duty. Dee's Taser got caught on her car seatbelt, which resulted in her being jerked backwards when she attempted to exit her vehicle. Initially, Dee thought nothing of it. However, soon Dee experienced pain in her back and legs, pain that worsened to the point she required surgery.
 
"I underwent major back surgery. I had an artificial disc inserted in my spine at L4-L5 and a disc fusion L5-S1," she said.
 
"The recovery was excruciating, and it turned out the surgery caused nerve damage. The pain was awful. It was like my legs were on fire.
 
"I was then booked in to undergo another surgical procedure 12 months later, a facet joint fusion to alleviate some of the pressure between my vertebrae."
 
It was not long after Dee's second operation that she realised she would never get back to frontline policing and her career was over.
 
"I was on a WA Police Force return-to-work program but unable to sit for long periods because my pain was constant and lying down, something I couldn't do on the job, was the only way to relieve it," she said.
 
"I took redundancy and left the WA Police Force. It was a tough time, having to face the fact my career was all over due to one silly mistake with my Taser and seatbelt. I'd never wear the uniform again. I no longer carried authority. I was no longer needed or wanted. I was broken."
 
According to Dee, aside from her injury, the bullying she experienced was the tipping point for her to walk away from the WA Police Force.
 
"It’s very discouraging when you’re an WA Police Force officer suffering with a mental illness or physical injury if you've no support from your supervisors. To try and perform at your best is difficult," she said.
 
"Officers are leaving the WA Police Force today for the same reasons I left in 2018. The bullying. The hierarchy. The lack of care.
 
"It was really good to see the WA Police Union come out so strong about the results of its recent survey. The union spoke the truth. Everything from the WA Police Force bosses and police minister was an enadequate excuse and lies.
 
"Saying no issues exist when clearly there do. Saying people are going to the mines when clearly they aren't. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who've left the WA Police Force recently. Some are being forced out medically. Some have had enough of the bullying and the lack of care.
 
"The WA Police Force needs to step back, have a look at itself and think about what it can do to change the way its leaders lead. The agency's officers signed up to be more than just a number. Treat them like humans who put on uniforms every day to serve their communities.
 
"There are different kinds of leaders. There are leaders who listen to feedback from their troops on the ground and take it on board, and there are leaders who ignore what they hear from their subordinates.
 
"It's the troops on the ground who are out there every day putting their lives on the line. They need to be heard because, if you're not going to listen to them, you're going to lose them. And that's what's happening."
 
For Dee, the highlights of her lengthy WA Police Force career were the rewarding tasks in which she helped people and the comradery.
 
"When the job was good, it was really good. But when it was bad, it was gun-to-the-head bad. Unfortunately, the WA Police Force's lack of care tarnished what could've been a long career for me," she said.
 
Several officers who shared their stories with Dee for the purposes of her book opened up to her about the taboo subject of suicide.
 
Jack shared his story of a heinous shift during which he and his partner attended a domestic violence job. Once Jack and his partner entered the house, a man confronted them, standing in the doorway with one of his arms around a woman and his other arm holding a knife to her throat. The woman, who was cradling a baby, shouted, "he's going to kill me, and he'll kill you too." Jack said the scene was like an abattoir setting. There was blood everywhere as the man had sliced open his wrists.
 
Jack remembers his hand hovering over his holster and thinking of the repercussions using his gun. "No police officer ever wants to have to discharge their firearm. It means explaining your actions in minute detail to internal investigators. Some police have been arrested and treated like criminals for using their firearms before they've even had a chance to explain themselves. These are, unfortunately, the thoughts racing through the minds of officers during these critical times."
 
Jack and his partner managed to deescalate the situation and the man was taken into custody but not before he told police he just wanted to kill a cop. Regrettably, this job and many others like it took a toll on Jack's partner. The horrors led to alcohol dependency and a suicide attempt. Jack's partner called his sergeant and told him of his intentions. Luckily, officers found Jack's partners in time and saved his life. Jack's partner quit policing and sought treatment to help him with his demons.
 
Sadly, harmful and premeditated attacks on our members occur far too often. Recently, for example, an offender deliberately accelerated the car he was driving and ploughed into two stationary officers who'd attended the scene to assist with a domestic violence task. The car struck both officers, one thrown towards a fence and the other pinned between the vehicle and a garage door. Both officers were lucky not to be killed.
 
Another officer spoke to Dee about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the mental harm many of Constable Damien Murphy's WA Police Force colleagues suffered following his death in the line of duty.
 
Harry suffered gruelling PTSD after being exposed to countless deaths, horrific accidents and family tragedies. Dee was unable to talk about the bullying Harry was exposed to, to protect his privacy. Harry's worst day story was more an accumulation of bad days that led to his debilitating case of PTSD than any one single incident. Diagnosed as mentally unfit to continue as an operational officer, Harry resigned six months later.
 
Among the horrors, though, Dee's book features tales of saving lives, finding persons and changing people’s circumstances for the better. Dee says the book's title truly summed up her WA Police Force career. You could go from having the best shift to the worst shift in an instant.
 
 
 
Email Dee to purchase a copy of her book deezasimp@gmail.com  
ItWastheBestofDaysItWastheWorstofDays MC 63783189860198154400