The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on Wednesday bade farewell to the country’s longest serving police officer as he retires after 47 years service.
PC Mick Mountain, who is 66 years old and based at the Palace of Westminster, describes being a police officer as “the most fantastic career” after his Dad persuaded him to apply back in 1966.
PC Mountain, now married with two children, joined the force as a 19-year-old based on the beat in Wimbledon, South London. Equipped with only a whistle and truncheon, he remembers his first arrest well, taking two drunk men to the nearest police tardis to call for a vehicle to pick them up – the only police vehicle then on the division.
Now accustomed to all the latest technology, radios, computers and trained to the highest level at driving school, there is no one better to describe the changes the police has gone through over the years, with a career spanning over six decades.
Mick has arrested thousands of criminals, worked under eleven Commissioners, policed the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees, had his nose broken three times and a gun pointed at him twice – all during his 47 years service.
His most memorable arrest was during his time in Wimbledon, when he responded to reports of a man with a hand grenade on the Common.
Mick and his colleague approached the man, who had the grenade in his pocket and was threatening to pull the pin. Mick grabbed the man holding his hand in his pocket to ensure the pin was not released. His colleague called for assistance, which arrived not a moment too soon for Mick as he continued to fight the man to keep the pin in the grenade.
After a cordon was set up, the only option was for Mick to rip the grenade from the man’s pocket and throw it into the designated open space. Thankfully the pin stayed in the grenade and no one was injured. Mick received a Commissioner’s commendation for his brave actions.
In 1990 Mick joined the MPS Territorial Support Group (TSG) and policed his fair share of public disorder in the capital. The protests against the Vietnam war in Grosvenor Square in 1968 is one of his earlier memories, through to being involved in both Brixton riots in 1982 and 1995.
Mick can vividly relive the violence and the fear as petrol bombs were being thrown at them and the injuries his colleagues sustained during the Brixton riots. He talks about the basic equipment, clothing and training they had in the 80s when they were called away from an FA cup semi-final football match in Wimbledon to help fellow officers in Brixton.
Mick also travelled out of London to police the miners’ strikes no less than eight times and can recall Southall riots in 1979 and Lewisham riots in 1977, when they used riot shields for the first time.
Mick’s interest in public order policing has helped him maintain his fitness over the years and as he describes ‘keep up with the youngsters’.
During his time in the TSG Mick can remember chasing a young boy, catching up with him and after a struggle pinning him down. Catching his first glimpse of Mick, the boy turned to him and said: “You are the oldest copper I have ever seen!” His colleagues fell about laughing and never let him forget that comment. Mick often wonders what the boy would say about him now – 20 years on and still confident he could keep up with the youngsters.
In 1995 Mick transferred to the Palace of Westminster, where he has stayed for 18 years doing what he enjoys most about policing – meeting people. “I love coming into work everyday and meeting so many different people” says Mick. “It’s what spurred me to stay in the job all this time and the thing that I will miss the most.”
When asked what he will not miss about policing, the answer for Mick is simple – technology.
Keeping up with the latest technological advances and moving from paper to online, is something that Mick will be happy to see the back of.
Now a licensed cab driver, Mick intends on spending his retirement with his ever growing family and visiting his second home in Spain.
PC Mick Mountain said: “What can I say…I stick at things. Looking back, joining the police was the best piece of advice my Dad could have given me. I will always be proud to have been in the Met, as I believe we are the best police service in the world.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Sandra Looby, OCU Commander for the Palace of Westminster (SO17), said: “The dedication and commitment that Mick has shown to serve and protect London is both outstanding and inspiring. He has moved with the times, embraced the many changes policing has seen over the years and been a fantastic police officer.
“After so many years and the amount of experience PC Mountain has, I am sure I speak for the whole service when I say I am sad to see him go. I wish him and his family all the best of luck in the future.”
Sergeant Malcolm Buchanan, Mick’s line manager, said: “Mick has been a flexible and accommodating member of my team. He is an individual who is not easily flustered, is self-confident and communicates easily with everyone from all walks of life.
“He has always displayed an exemplary and professional attitude to his work which is confirmed by his colleagues. Completing 47 years service is a unique achievement which is unlikely to be passed.”
Credit: Metropolitan Police Service