Life in a Blue Suit – police officer and hostage negotiatior @DS_Rosser on why he tweets (#WIT24)

Detective Sergeant Mark Rosser is based in Brighton he is a drug expert witness and hostage and crisis negotiator.


Why I Tweet

A good friend emailed me today and asked me to contribute a guest blog, I’m not that creative and put in a stalling tactic to give me time to think about what to say.

We’ve all read the “police – why I tweet” blogs and everything that’s in them is right – in the pre twitter days the only real police engagement was face to face but now at a touch of a button I can engage with people all over the planet.

I first started using twitter when I arrived at Brighton in February 2012 and most significantly during the search of missing 96 year old Nellie Herriot.

I was able to get her name and picture into the public domain so quickly that once others had joined me, her photograph had been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in a very short space of time – even now I occasionally see a #findnellie tweet or get asked for an update. The truth is we don’t know where she is but we want to get her back to her family.

I’ve said it before but my Twitter “content” probably isn’t what you would expect from from a “corporate” account but I’m fortunate to have forward thinking bosses that encourage individuality and engagement with those I seek to serve.

There’s only one constant in my life and that’s the shift pattern that I work, which occasionally necessitates being on call or working my days off – today is a good example of when it all goes wrong, it’s my day off and the dentist appointment I’ve waited a month for has just been cancelled as I’m needed at court to provide drug expert witness evidence (not actually my day job). I spend all day there and the defendant pleads guilty and awaits a significant prison sentence.

So everyday I go to work not knowing what’s waiting for me and not knowing what’s yet to materialise.

I can also guarantee that whatever awaits its not good news and will always feature someone’s misfortune. What I do know is that I work with a great bunch of people who all strive to do the right thing and make sure justice prevails.

Hostage and crisis negotiator

I’ve alluded to things that I do outside my day job and another one of those is that of hostage and crisis negotiator.

The selection process started with a long form, you know the type where you have to evidence qualities and characteristics, but the real test is a conversation you have to have with someone in a crisis – someone who picks up on everything you say and throws it back at you just to be awkward. “It’s a test” I keep saying to myself in my head but aloud I keep acknowledging what the man is saying with an “OK” because I’m writing it all down and he spots this by saying “if you say OK again I’m going to kill the hostage” and dutifully writing I say “OK” before slapping my head!

Despite the threat we managed to build some rapport and I passed the assessment, did the regional course which lasts a week, then a couple of years later completed a national course run by the best in the business, The Met.

I have the honour of living the closest to Beachy Head in Sussex, so the amount of times I’ve been stood there on the cliff edge, in the rain, often in the dark talking about all sorts and trying to point out to people that life is still worth living. People with all sorts of issues, relationship or business breakdown, financial issues, mental health and depression and one person who’d murdered her partner shortly before. So far (fingers crossed) I’ve not lost one.

It’s surreal talking through someone’s problems as they cling to the edge, threatening to jump if I come closer with the Red Arrows screaming round behind them as they perform at the Eastbourne Airshow – (the Airshow I’ve left my wife and kids at, as yes you’ve guessed it, another day off).

Now you might think, I couldn’t do his job but I tell you what, most days I get to laugh – the humour and team spirit in the office is what gets us through and guess what……now I have you!

I try not to make all my tweets a broadcast because thats robotic and boring, I make a point of chucking in real life stuff thats “warts’n’all” too.

The upshot is that Twitter has introduced me to people I would never have met otherwise, I’ve received questions from aspiring police officers or people interested in the work we do, spoken to people who like/don’t like the police, had debate with people whose views are different to mine, met some nice TV people in front and behind the camera, been sent crime intelligence and ended up as a character in a thriller novel – I love it !


This is the 24th post in the criminal justice/legal Why I tweet series. Read the others here.

Next week: Barbara Hamilton Bruce (@bhamiltonbruce) in-house lawyer on why she tweets.

Get Russell’s¬†free guide to Twitterfectiveness.



One Response

  1. Jane 10th June 2013

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