A code 21 is a police emergency call which alerts everyone to the fact that a constable is in need of urgent assistance. It usually means the officer is in trouble and fighting for survival.
Warning contains the odd swear word.
Had to put out a few 21’s in my time but the first one was a pure Key Stone Cop fiasco where no one got the jail. Back in 1980, I was 19 years old and still wet between the ears or as they used to say, “The ink on my warrant card hadn’t dried yet.” I was deployed solo for the first time in Drumoyne, G Div. I was still a probationer but no senior cops were there to ensure I stayed out of bother. I was proud as punch that fine, back shift, summer night as I patrolled my beat, in a diligent manner. Smartly dressed in shirt sleeve order, bulled boots, razor sharp creases, new hat and a shiny whistle that glistened in the sunlight, I was king of the hill.
For some, now seemingly stupid, reason I walked around a quiet side street. No reason to go there. It’s off the beaten track but it was my beat and I was going to patrol it. At about 5pm, Half way around the crecent I met a five-year-old boy who was dressed in his pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers standing outside his front door looking lost. Keen to help the public in any way I could I asked him if everything was ok and he told me he couldn’t wake his granny who was sleeping on the couch.
I entered the living room and found what looked like one dead granny. “FUCK!” I was trying to work out how to tell a 5-year-old boy that his granny was dead when two taxi’s pulled up at the front door. Slightly relieved I didn’t have to deal with the child, I met the taxi occupants at the front door and identified the child’s mother or the granny’s daughter. I told her that granny had passed away and she went ape-shit. She started screaming, fell to her knees and began ripping out her hair. This was my first solo death message and I don’t think it went too well.
Meanwhile one of her brothers ran into the living room and grabbed the deceased granny. The movement released some trapped air and the body moaned. Said brother thought this was a sign of life and shouted “She’s still alive” Brother number two who was still with me at the door told me the two taxis had just returned from Grampa’s funeral and he didn’t like my idea of a joke.
Confusion reigned and brother number three called me a “sick bastard” and then swung for me. The rest of the relatives were split between resuscitating granny, assisting screaming daughter and kicking seven bells out of me whilst I tried to explain that granny was indeed dead as I fended off granny’s crazy relatives. I refrained from battening anyone but I had to move quickly and I shoved a few people about to avoid getting a doing. My control room update must have been a shambles. I got out my location but all the screaming shouting and anti-police rhetoric in the back ground obviously gave the control room some concern. Me incoherently trying to explain my predicament didn’t help either. The controller, knowing I was just out the wrapper, put out a 21 on my behalf and the gaffers who were only a couple of streets away arrived almost immediately and diffused the situation.
The mouthy brothers were immediately put in their place and order was restored before any other station had arrived and things really got out of hand. The sight of pips and stripes reduced the venom that had earlier been on display and they accepted the fact that granny was no longer pinning for the fjords.
Granny was indeed dead. She had passed on, was no more, had ceased to be, expired, gone to meet her maker or was bereft of life as a certain comedy team would say and every one was pacified. My Code 21 resulted in a sudden death. Sergeant pissed himself laughing at my expense and adapted the dead parrot sketch to the Govan dead granny sketch. For the next few months I was the butt of “Monty Python style dead granny” and “code 21, if you run out of toilet paper” jokes.
Dead Fecking Funny, Not!
For the benefit of you older cops, I never wanted to be a policeman any way. I wanted to be a Lumberjack.