The Real Police Woman
Somehow the case sums up exactly what it is like to be a police officer in modern Britain, it's simply a matter of degree.
As a woman, you patrol with a female colleague, or a male one, or alone, with no distinction.
You patrol with officers of just a few months' service, when you only have a few yourself.
You are called to an emergency when you're trying to get off on time for your four-year-old's birthday party.
It's always a false alarm when you zoom there with heart racing. When you go expecting apologies, it's never a false alarm.
The crime is nearly always solvable, and it always comes down to CCTV, car registrations, random fortuitous eye witnesses, and DNA. How many vans you get to pick up your suspects may vary.
Somewhere along the way, the case will involve someone who should or could or would have been deported, only wasn't.
As a police officer, you think that no one outside the police can understand.
But actually, they do.
I don't why PC Beshenivsky's death seems so important. It could be because she was so young in service, on such a routine call. It could be because members of the public were the first to run to her aid, and later left tributes, flowers and even a sculpture at the site of her death. It could even be, dares admit this hardened feminist, because she was a woman, crewed with another woman, shot to death in the street on her child's birthday while her husband made the party preparations at home.
Strangely, the fact that she was female was actually the least relevant factor in the entire case. The robbers ran out armed, within seconds discharged bullets at the sight of the police. They would have had no idea they had killed and injured two women until later. Sharon was not even the first female officer to be murdered on duty.
But for me, the shooting of Sharon Beshenivsky and Teresa Milburn came early in my career, when I was at a similar level of service, and was attending panic alarm activations on a weekly basis. It was a time when I was clamouring about female equality, and expected to do exactly the same jobs as the boys I worked with, and to do them just as well or better. I suppose it summed up just what equality could really mean.
As a female sergeant now, and one of many in my area, I don't have a moment to think about PC Beshenivsky when working out my crewings. I don't have enough officers to be picky about who they work with, and I wouldn't be even if I did. There is literally no time or money for sexism in my day-to-day job. My female officers do exactly the same work as the men, and they are equally likely to get gunned down in the street on their way to a routine commitment.
Which is why I never miss an opportunity to spend a few minutes in a briefing talking about cases like PC Beshenivsky, and thinking about how we drive by, where we park and how we approach the most routine of calls.
If one of my shifts ended the way Sharon Beshenivsky's sergeant's did on 18th November 2005, I am not sure I'd ever go into work again.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.