Celebrating Scotland’s #CourageousCops – Life savers PC Greg Gavin and PC Paul Brownlee

Perth Police HQ - by Ninian Reid via Flickr

It is just over two weeks until the annual Scottish Police Federation Bravery Awards and today we begin a series of posts highlighting our Courageous Colleagues from across the country winning an award at the event on 30 November.

Ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. #ItsWhatWeDo 

We start this series with the story of brave bridge PCs Greg Gavin and Paul Brownlee, 



Two Police Scotland officers who held on to a suicidal man as he dangled perilously from a bridge in the middle of the night have won a Scottish Police Federation Bravery Award.

PC Paul Brownlee and PC Greg Gavin were the first to arrive as a man was trying to jump from the Dalkeith’s Newmills Road Bridge in April.

The scene was chaotic with members of the public and the man’s relatives desperately trying to cling onto him as he attempted to jump.

“He seemed intent on letting go,” recalls PC Gavin. “He was very upset and was saying his goodbyes. We just knew we needed to grab hold of this guy.”

PC Brownlee added: “There was a risk, that if we grabbed the guy we would have gone over the bridge with him. And that’s exactly what almost happened.”

The pair convinced the man to talk so they could get within touching distance, then without a word to each other they lunged and grabbed him.

Suspended in mid-air, PC Browlee clung onto him with a bearhug while PC Gavin – an officer with just five months’ experience – clutched his colleague.

PC Brownlee said: “I think he knew what we were doing, so at that point he just became a dead weight. He just completely let go. Immediately our arms took the full weight of his body over the edge of the railing, to the point where myself and Paul were hanging over.

“It’s about 100 feet drop down below to a rocky river. And we are hanging over the edge and just staring at this guy who’s just staring back at us, just asking us to let him go, to let him die. He was getting heavier and heavier. It was extremely intense.”

The pair were incredibly relieved to hear the sirens as backup arrived – the four-minute struggle had felt like an eternity. Their colleagues grabbed hold of them and helped pull the man to safety.

PC Brownlee, who has been an officer for six years, added: “In my police career I’ve been to some scary inci-dents – knives and needles pointed at me, but I’ve always felt safe and I’ve never felt like I wouldn’t go home that night. But this was very much different. My wife was pregnant at the time. Later, at the station, I realised how terrifying it had been.”

The officers will attend a Parliamentary reception at Holyrood on 30 November before an evening awards ceremony where one overall winner will be named. This is the third Scottish Police Federation Bravery Awards, which honour officers who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.

Andrea MacDonald, Chair of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “Paul and Greg doubtlessly risked their own lives in this incredibly dangerous, stressful and intense situation. Policing is about much more than crime and our officers are often looked to resolve situations such as these.

“But it should never be forgotten what personal risks they are taking and the sacrifices they make to keep people safe each and every day. This was a truly amazing rescue and this brave pair truly deserve this award.”

The awards are sponsored by Police Mutual and the hashtag for the event is #CourageousCops. 

Stephen Mann, Chief Executive of Police Mutual, said: “These annual awards are well-known for recognising inspiring acts of courage by police officers and members of the public. This year is no different, and we are once again reminded that outstanding bravery is being demonstrated every day in communities across Scot-land.

“The winners are a credit to their family and friends, their communities, and the wider Police Service.”

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