TWO police officers who risked their lives to arrest a man who was wanted for a string of serious offences have been recognised for their bravery.
PC Julie Bennett, 45, and PC Leah Greenacre, 25, who was based at Warrington Police Station, have been named as the winners of the bravery award by the British Association of Women in Policing.
The two officers were attacked by a man who days earlier had tried to knock down an officer from a neighbouring force and threatened to carry out a 'Raoul Moat' on any police constable he met.
On the morning of May 28, the two colleagues were deployed to carry out checks on a suspicious vehicle which had been spotted in Burtonwood at around 4am.
The car was believed to belong to a man who was wanted for a domestic assault.
After a search of the area, the two officers noticed two vehicles parked up on a car park near to Burtonwood Catholic Club.
A man could be seen searching through the boot of one of the cars.
PC Greenacre said: “We walked over to have a chat with him and you could tell straightaway he was on drugs – his eyes were like saucepans.
“He kept saying ‘it’s not a stolen car’.
“Instantly we both knew something was wrong.”
Within seconds the man had grabbed PC Bennett’s vest before running off.
While PC Greenacre gave chase, PC Bennett quickly jumped into the police car to follow the man.
But, just as she was about to leave the car park, the man ran back in her direction and jumped into one of the vehicles.
PC Bennett used the police car to block his exit.
Both officers tried to detain the man, who was under the influence of amphetamine, but he refused and turned violent.
PC Greenacre said: “He was that frantic that the car was wheel spinning.
“At one point he said ‘I’m going to kill you’ and I just thought maybe you are.”
The Taser failed to work on the man so the officers were left with no choice but to use their batons.
PC Bennett added: “He knocked me off my feet and he started to turn his wheel to reverse even more and I just thought he’s going to drive over me.
“I somehow managed to grab onto the steering wheel and pull myself up.
“We got our batons and managed to get a handcuff on him.”
After a violent struggle the officers were finally able to arrest the man who was taken into custody.
He has since been charged with 10 offences and has been remanded into a mental health hospital.
“I was actually sick afterwards – I was drained,” said PC Greenacre, who was still on her probation period at the time.
"I remember thinking this was just horrendous.
“Potentially we could have not been going home at the end of the day.
“We got off lightly.”
Both officers suffered black eyes, cuts and bruises while PC Bennett needed three weeks off work following a knee injury.
“It does affect you. Now when I go out I think about what it could potentially turn into,” said PC Greenacre.
“You could be the strongest guy or woman in the world but you can’t control people on drugs.
“At the end of the day you are still a human being but with a uniform on.”
SENIOR officers at Cheshire Police have praised the efforts of PC Julie Bennett, 45, and PC Leah Greenacre, 25.
Sarah Pengelly, chief inspector, said: "I’m really delighted that the courage that both Julie and Leah have shown in this incident has been recognised by Cheshire Police and at a national level.
"During officers daily work there are incidents that have inherent risks, we constantly assess these dangers and on occasions officers show immense bravery and determination in dealing with them.
"This is exactly what Julie and Leah have done in support of the public."
Deputy chief constable Janette McCormick added: “Both officers handled a very difficult and frightening situation in an extremely professional manner and they are now rightly being commended for their fantastic work and bravery.
“The situation PC Bennett and PC Greenacre were presented with highlights the dangers our officers face and demonstrates the fantastic job they are doing in keeping our communities safe each and every day.
“On behalf of everyone at Cheshire Constabulary I would like to thank both officers for their fantastic work and congratulate them on winning this award.”
Cheshire PCC David Keane said: “It is extremely humbling to see the courage both officers demonstrated and this once again highlights the vital role police play in keeping our streets safe, sometimes in very difficult circumstances.
“I am delighted that both officers have been recognised for their work and would like to congratulate them on winning this national award.
“We are very fortunate in Cheshire to have such a wonderful team of police officers and this highlights the dedication and commitment they are willing to show to protect our communities.”