Two police officers who apprehended a man carrying bladed weapons despite being sprayed in the face repeatedly with a noxious substance have been nominated for the National Police Bravery Awards 2023.
On November 19 last year, Sergeants Luke Sands and Jen Hussey were deployed following reports of a male trying to start fires on Boscombe Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth.
At the time of the incident the area, which is popular with local walkers, was busy with members of the public enjoying the weather and scenery.
Looking suspicious with a large rucksack, the officers approached the suspect who continued to walk away from them. They were seriously concerned at the risk he posed to members of the public nearby.
PS Hussey engaged with the man who, without warning, pulled out a bottle and sprayed her several times in the face with an unknown substance. This caused PS Hussey to recoil with shock, discomfort and fear.
PS Sands feared the worst and knew how damaging such attacks could be, so he immediately drew his Taser to stop the male and protect PS Hussey.
The male failed to comply with the directions of PS Sands so the Taser was discharged. Alarmingly, it was ineffective, and the male was able to break the wires and escape.
Acutely aware of the potential danger this male posed to the public, both sergeants chased and caught up to him.
Still suffering the effects of being sprayed with an unknown substance, PS Hussey challenged the male again who sprayed her in the face for a second time.
PS Sands discharged his Taser again so they could arrest the suspect, but he remained standing.
Despite having been sprayed several times in the face with an unknown noxious substance, PS Hussey continued to pursue the male on foot before shooting the male in the back of the legs with her Taser, which thankfully had immediate effect so they could make an arrest.
Upon searching the male, it was apparent he had gone out that day to cause some serious harm. It was discovered he was kitted out in protective body armour and padding and also in possession of a number of bladed articles, as well as the bottles of unknown spray.
Thankfully PS Hussey was not hurt, and the spray turned out to be homemade pepper spray.
James Dimmack, Dorset Police Federation chair, said: “The officers demonstrated bravery in the face of a potentially dangerous subject with unknown motives and capabilities.
“Luke and Jen remained completely professional throughout, with their key priority being to keep the public safe. They displayed a great deal of perseverance, courage and bravery in pursuing the male, detaining him and securing his arrest, which deserves recognition.”
Chief Superintendent Mark Callaghan said: “Sergeant Sands and Sergeant Hussey are outstanding sergeants. Leading from the front they have attended an incident where they were both confronted with a male who was violent and sprayed an unknown noxious substance.
“Despite this the officers continued their pursuit and detained a male who had the capability and immediate access to cause significant harm to members of the public. Despite this threat, the officers done their duty with utmost professionalism. I am hugely proud of their actions and bravery.”
PS Jen Hussey said: “My initial reaction after being sprayed with the noxious substance was shock. Given the male had deliberately assaulted me and was seemingly unfazed by being challenged with a Taser, I was seriously concerned at the risk he posed to innocent members of the public nearby. I am proud our fast time actions were successful in detaining this male and preventing him causing serious harm.”
PS Luke Sands said: “This was a quick and dynamic incident; however, the shear fear of the potential consequences was significant, such an attack can be so crude and basic, and unexpecting as this case demonstrates. Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured, and a dangerous offender was removed from the streets.”