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By Chris Willmott Wednesday 27 February 2013 Updated: 07/03 09:51
OLYMPIAN Sally Walton swapped her hockey stick for a police shield as she was put through public order training.
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of female officers gaining the power of arrest, Sally - who picked up a bronze Olympic medal with the Great Britain ladies team last year - was tested in a series of tough police training scenarios.
And it was clear that Sally’s fitness, bravery and co-ordination stood her in good stead as she tackled challenges ranging from restraining a violent person armed with a baseball bat, being petrol bombed and firing a Taser.
It was a far cry from the early days of women officers who could join the force in 1918.
They had to be 45-years-old, did not receive personal protective equipment and had no powers of arrest.
They eventually gained the power of arrest in 1933 and 80 years later female officers account for over 30 per cent of all officers, working in key roles across the force including command teams, the dogs unit, firearms and response teams.
Commenting on the day’s training Sally, of Solihull, said: “It was a fantastic experience.
“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 teamwork, 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.”
With preparations already underway for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year, and with one eye on Rio 2016, Sally is not planning on hanging up her hockey stick just yet!
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