Life of Brian – US officer gets perspective on British policing

AN AMERICAN police officer on a fact-finding trip to Greater Manchester has paid a flying visit to Saddleworth.

Sergeant Brian Smith from Whitehall in Ohio was accompanied by locally-based Greater Manchester Police officers Sergeant Neil Barker and PC Lee Cullen.

Chris Wilson, Sgt Neil Barker, Sgt Brian Smith, PC Lee Cullen and Lisa MacDonald

“I came for a couple of days in 2010 which is why I got the idea I wanted to come back and see things in a bit more detail with some specific areas,” Sgt Smith told the Independent.

“We have been looking at communities similar to ours around the world.

“So, I wanted to travel round and get a fresh perspective on how things are done to see if we can take ideas and if we do things differently.

“The policing is very similar with the same problems we both face – mental health is a big problem in US, along with problems around poverty and race relations.

“There are lot better community programmes here and more time is spent trying to work out community programmes.

“But we are pretty well resourced. There are about 30,000 residents in Whitehall and we have about 70 offices for our department.

“We have plenty of resources where here GMP seem more stretched.

“It’s been brought to my attention and they would like to spend more time on doing certain things but there is too much going on and too few resources.”

Sgt Smith, an officer for 15 years, also believed GMP’s American counterparts are boosted by increased spending power.

“Some of the things we do better comes with funding,” he added.

“We are big on technology and computers which makes life easier and enables to make more efficient use of our time.

“But that would cost a tremendous amount of money. So some of that may be out of reach here.”

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