Stapleford officer Pete Farrell has told how the town has transformed from the "Wild West" to a place he has "grown to love".
The beat manager is set to retire this month after 21 years in the town and more than 30 with Nottinghamshire Police. He was given his second unexpected leaving gift at a surprise party was held for him at The Meeting Place, in Derby Road, on July 14.
"I thought I was getting a telling off," the 54-year-old, who lives in Ilkeston, said. "Its not common that the inspector and chief inspector both come down and ask you into a private room for an important chat."
But when PC Farrell walked into the function room, he was met by members of the public, community activists, fellow officers and councillors, who tucked into a buffet and a slice of his specially made police-themed cake.
"I was shocked," he said. "It was completely out of the blue." PC Farrell has overseen the evolution of local policing in his time in Stapleford, including moving out of the old station in Nottingham Road. He looked back fondly on his "vital" community policing in Stapleford and said the introduction of a Pub Watch scheme, in which he played a key role, was a highlight of his time.
"It used to be like the Wild West," he said. "I used to dread work on a Saturday night because I knew there’d be fighting on Derby Road. It’s a lot calmer these days."
The "firm but fair" policeman said 99.9 per cent of people he has arrested still speak to him. "It’s vital for the police to get to know their communities," said PC Farrell. "I’m on first name terms with quite a few criminals."
Steve Wragg, Inspector for Broxtowe South, played the prank on PC Farrell. "As much as Pete smiled afterwards, I can assure you he wasn’t smiling at the time," he said. "His face was aghast. "Pete is an absolute pillar and absolute rock in Stapleford and will be missed by a lot of people."
David Wheatley, of Kennedy Drive, said PC Farrell had helped the community resolve issues such as parking and speeding. Mr Wheatley said: "He’s been tremendous with the public. He’s thoughtful, by the book and thorough. I only ever had one dealing with him, but he was fair to everyone involved."
Ray Darby, mayor of Stapleford Town Council added: "We will certainly miss him. He is a popular person and was always fir m but fair."
Story and photograph courtesy of Nottingham Post www.nottinghamshirepost.com