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PC Keith Palmer: “Your legacy is our way of life”

Monday, 10 April 2017


Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, pays tribute to PC Keith Palmer and explores what today will mean for so many.

Some are calling it a divided society, but in reality the lasting image of today will instead be one of unity. Police, politicians and the public alike will come together with the family, friends and colleagues of PC Keith Palmer to bid farewell to a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice while doing his duty.

Whether they are mourning him at Southwark Cathedral, lining the route of the funeral procession, or simply watching events unfold on television screens the length and breadth of the country, it is irrelevant. We are one.

Keith Palmer didn’t simply protect those in direct danger. Instead he stood at the gates of democracy and stopped an attack on its heart; in a beat he upheld all the values we hold dear; freedom of speech, freedom of choice. It’s not called the Mother of Parliaments for nothing – men and women like Keith Palmer do their utmost; they are the Lion hearts who, in other circumstances would modestly remain unsung heroes were it not for a cruel twist of fate which brought them to a grateful nation’s attention.

Yet PC Palmer also had another side. As well as a faithful servant of the Crown, perhaps his most important role was that of loving husband, father, brother, son, uncle and friend.  So today we grieve with them and promise them that his sacrifice will not be forgotten.

At a time when Britain has never faced a more severe threat in peacetime, PC 4157U upheld the Peelian principle that has stood fast for centuries: policing by consent. Any reaction to suggest that British bobbies should be routinely armed is a debate for another day. Today is the day to celebrate a true hero, an ordinary man made extraordinary by his own actions and the legacy he leaves behind.

The grief wrought on the faces of those who tried so hard to save PC Palmer was palpable and touched a chord with the nation. It must be so much worse for his family and friends, and we know his brothers and sisters in the services are equally pained.

So today we also pay tribute to PC Palmer’s colleagues, fellow police officers and emergency workers, doctors, nurses, social workers and more, working tirelessly to keep us safe, day in and day out. Many of whom would want to be there in person to pay tribute but will instead be giving private tributes as they go about their work, continuing to serve their communities and to keep people safe.

These are the people who face danger and some of life’s most unpleasant jobs in order that a civilised society such as ours can operate. We may sometimes take it for granted, but must always remember that while they all leave for work in the morning, a small number never ever make it home.

Thoughts of the others lost in this tragic incident are also at the forefront of our minds, as well as those still recovering from their ordeal, including three fellow Metropolitan Police Service officers.

So today we give thanks to PC Palmer and all police officers, wherever you serve. As Prince William aptly summed it up in his floral tribute to the fallen officer: “For PC Keith Palmer and all those who have served our community so valiantly; your legacy is our way of life.”

We salute you.

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