Former Stourbridge Olympic hockey player proves a hit on police training day (From Stourbridge News)
Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting SB NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Former Stourbridge Olympic hockey player proves a hit on police training day
4:22pm Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
OLYMPIAN Sally Walton, who used to work and train in Stourbridge, swapped her hockey stick for a police shield as she underwent public order training.
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of female officers gaining the power of arrest, Sally - who picked up a bronze Olympic medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games - was put through a series of tough police training scenarios.
The 31-year-old, who used to work at Peachy Keen smoothie bar in Market Street while training at Jim’s Gym in Lye, took on challenges ranging from restraining a violent attacker with a baseball bat, being petrol bombed and firing a Taser.
Challenges faced by female police officers today are a far cry from when they were first allowed to join the force in 1918.
Back then they had to be 45-years-old, and they had no personal protective equipment and no powers of arrest.
Arresting powers were eventually granted in 1933 and 80 years on female officers account for more than 30 per cent of all police officers, working in key roles across the force including on command teams, the dogs unit, firearms and response teams.
Sally, who was part of the squad that clinched Britain’s first Olympic hockey medal since 1992, described the police training experience as “fantastic”.
She said: “I've looked from afar on what the police do so it was great to be involved in their training and get a hands-on experience. My particular highlight was the petrol bombing and using the long shield to restrain a violent person."
Sergeant Samantha Price, from Solihull police, said: "As a nation we were all mightily impressed with Sally, her team mates, and everyone involved with Team GB and London 2012.
“But it was a far cry from the scenes across the country a year before when officers including myself and the team here today, were involved in the police response to the disorder across the region.
"With this in mind we wanted to see how Sally could transfer her skills from the world of sport to policing. There are similarities between our roles; you need to have the right tactics, great team work, fitness and to be able to cope under high pressure situations.
“We had a suspicion Sally would have the attributes to help her during the police training but she did even better than we could have anticipated."
But with preparations underway for the Commonwealth games in Glasgow next year, and one eye on Rio 2016, Sally isn't planning on hanging up her hockey stick for a role in the force just yet.