It’s coming up to midnight. You’re just getting ready for bed when the pager goes off: PLEASE CALL DUTY INSPECTOR, SOUTH WALES POLICE.

The inspector tells you that a police search manager has requested Mountain Rescue for a search of a missing vulnerable 42 year old in Ebbw Vale. You page out the message to the team and head off yourself.

As you arrive at the police station, you see around a half-dozen of your fellow team members gathered around the police station, which is locked and looks quite dark. A quick call to the police control room gets an officer around to the side gate, and in fact you realise that an incident room and a conference room are in full swing at the back of the station. You and your team members settle down for a cup of tea while you get your maps out and start looking at the area.

Two police Inspectors enter the room – John is a police search manager, and the other Inspector is the Bronze commander – duty Inspector there for the evening. John begins his briefing.

“Thank you for coming. We have a missing male tonight, aged 42, white, 5’10”. His name is Eric Starcrosser – this isn’t his given name. Earlier in the evening his ex-girlfriend found a note from him showing his intention to self-harm, and when she called him on his mobile, she indicated that he was upset and was slurring his speech. This was around eight pm. He has spoken to the control room who also indicated that he was slurring his speech.

“He does have a history of similar incidents, and some 18 months ago, we searched and found him on the mountain some distance from his home. However, it’s not thought that he has been on the mountain since then. He is on medication, but what that is and what it’s for we’re still trying to find out. He is known to have a violent history and has a record with a smattering of minor violent crimes – affray, wounding and some theft.

“He does have a mobile phone, which Silver control won’t authorise a location search on it until we’ve exhausted local enquiries first. I’ve just called Eric, and he was lucid and clear, sounded happy and content and advised me that he was safe and well, but didn’t want to reveal his location.

“What do you want to do?”

As the Inspector finishes talking, you look around the room. The clock says it’s 0100, and you count 23 of your team members looking at you. Behind the two Inspectors are 6 police officers, all looking at you.

What do you do?

6 Responses to “Tonight, YOU’re the search manager!”

  1. Bronchitikat says:

    So what did you do?

    & rather you than me, though I suspect everyone else was thinking that too.

  2. Aled says:

    Well, I’ll tell you what the decision was a bit later on. I’m hoping that I’ll get a few people commenting on what they’d do first, just to see.

    So go on, what would you do?

  3. Elaine says:

    The inspector says: “I’ve just called Eric, and he was lucid and clear, sounded happy and content and advised me that he was safe and well, but didn’t want to reveal his location.”

    So … do you trust the judgement of the inspector when he says ‘lucid and clear’?

    If you do: Stand down.

    You can’t go rescuing people against their ‘lucid’ wishes.

    (And then the next day, find Eric, smack him on the back of the head, and tell him to get over himself.)

  4. Elaine says:


  5. […] This is the long-awaited second part of this post last month asking my readers what you would do as a search manager. Apologies for the delay – Real Life managed to get in the way. […]

  6. Elaine says:

    I think it might have just been quicker to type “You’re right, Elaine.”