Philippa - a ‘daughter of Derry’
As devastated colleagues prepare to say their final goodbyes to PSNI officer Philippa Reynolds tomorrow, a senior officer says the “bubbly” and “beautiful” 27-year-old will have “left a legacy for a brighter future”.
G District Commander, Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin yesterday paid a heartfelt tribute to Constable Reynolds, who he said was in “the prime of her life when she was so suddenly taken away from us”.
The former teacher from the Greater Belfast area was in her second year of service with the PSNI, and was a member of the Response Section in Derry.
“It’s been a very difficult couple of days,” Chief Supt. Cargin told the ‘Journal’.
The veteran officer said in his 27 years of service he had witnessed colleagues being murdered and shot, but said he had never seen the outpouring of widespread support as that shown since the young constable’s death.
“The support we’ve had has come in like a wave,” he said, “Sadly, in the past, a death like Philippa’s would have been cause for celebration in some communities, but I’m glad to say that has changed and the support we’ve had is in stark contrast to that. We are overwhelmed by the messages of sympathy. I’ve had e-mails from America, messages from every level of government, North and South, and nationally; and from all political parties, community and church leaders. I’ve never seen that before and it really is powerful.”
Among those who called to express their condolences at Strand Road PSNI station were local clergy including Monsignor Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop; Waterside PP Fr. Michael Canny and First Derry Minister, Rev Dr David Latimer. Members of Sinn Fein also called to pay their respects, said Chief Supt. Cargin.
“They’ve taken bold steps and to me that is testimony to where we are in the city on this journey of policing and it’s a real encouragement. Philippa wasn’t just an officer. She was a daughter of this city and she has left a legacy; one that I can certainly see that will bring a brighter future.”
Chief Supt. Cargin revealed Cons. Reynolds’ parents, Mervyn and Dorothy, were on holiday when she died, but he had since met with them and her older sisters, Nicola and Deborah at the weekend. He said he had also spent time with Cons. Reynolds’ boyfriend.
“They said to me ‘we hope something good will come out of Philippa’s death’. It has and it will,” he said. “I would just encourage people to let us do our job. We don’t want to be out policing flag protests or facing violence and disorder on the streets against our officers. We don’t want to be taking steps backward. We are professional officers and we want to deliver the world class police service the majority of poeple want us to. We do not want to go back to the past.”
Supt. Cargin revealed the two officers who were travelling in the police vehicle with Cons. Reynolds at the time of the incident had been released from hospital and were deeply traumatised. He said the ‘PSNI family’ would be there to support the two officers during the difficult months ahead.
“I’ve met with them a couple of times since and it will take a long time for them to come to terms with what happened. No doubt the questions going through their minds will be ‘Why Philippa?’, ‘Why not me?’”
Supt. Cargin said whilst it was “a horrific incident” it was “nothing short of a miracle’ more lives weren’t lost, and had it not been for the “saving grace” of being an armoured police car, any other vehicle would have been “cut in two”.
The senior officer revealed the PSNI had been in touch with the owner of the stolen 4x4.
“They are devastated and of course, we have to be sensitive to them. It’s tragic,” he said.
Chief Supt. Cargin said Cons. Reynolds was “always full of life” and had a presence wherever she was.
“When I’d see her in the canteen or in the corridors, she certainly never shied away from senior managers - some people do but Philippa didn’t,” he said. “She had a bubbly personality and you always noticed her. In the last couple of days she has had a huge impact across the island and touched so many hearts.”
As a father of four, Chief Supt. Cargin said the sense of loss is unimaginable, especially for those who worked and knew Cons. Reynolds so well.
“The officers in the Response Section will be back on duty and, while they have this horrendous hurt inside them, I have no doubt they will deliver a professional policing service.
“The funeral will be very difficult and very sad,” he said, adding: “We’re all devastated.”
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Weather for Derry
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 12 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west