He bravely ran away

Caption: When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.

In a key scene in Jurassic Park, lawyer Donald Gennaro takes one look at the escaped Tyrannosaurus and abandons the children in his care to their fate, while he bolts to apparent safety. He left us! the girl gasps in disbelief.

Standing firm to protect others, even in the face of certain death, is widely recognised as a particular male virtue. Women and children first, was the watchword of thousands of men who resigned themselves to their fate while the Titanic slipped into the icy water. A man who put his own safety ahead of those under his protection has long been particularly reviled.

The same is even more true of leaders. In C. S. Lewis? The Magician?s Nephew, a prospective king is grilled about whether he is prepared to be first in the charge and last in the retreat. Even when the situation is hopeless, leaders are expected to lead by example. In Gallipoli, a trembling officer prepares to go to certain death with the words, ?Can’t ask the men to do what I wouldn’t do myself?. When Victorian police commissioner Christine Nixon, rightly or wrongly, left her post during the devastating Black Friday bushfires, for a hairdressing appointment and a nice dinner she never lived down the ignominy.

And now this: Quote:

Scotland Yard?s acting commissioner has told how he witnessed the fatal stabbing of PC Keith Palmer in the Westminster Bridge Attack but fled the scene because no one in his vehicle had protective equipment or a radio.

Sir Craig Mackey, the Met?s deputy commissioner, said his first instinct was to jump out and help but an assistant locked the car doors because they had nothing with which to stop the Islamist terrorist Khalid Masood. End of quote.

His first instinct was right. If nothing else, they had a car, just like the attacker did. Quote:

?I was in shirtsleeves, with no radio, I didn?t know if the attack was ongoing ? we had no protective equipment at all, no communications, we had been in a ministerial meeting.? End of quote.

PC Nick Carlisle was unarmed, too. Masood was armed with large knives, and Carlisle realised instantly that he was intent on killing police officers. But he threw himself in a rugby tackle anyway, so that the injured Palmer could get away.

On the other hand, his ?superior? took off. Quote:

?Anyone who got in his way would have been a target,? Sir Craig said. ?Anyone who came up against that individual would have faced serious, serious injury if not death.? End of quote.

So he let that ?anyone? be ?anyone else?. Quote:

?The thing that still shakes me about the attack is that it was 80-plus seconds in total. It didn?t feel like that, it felt an awfully long time.? End of quote.

It probably felt even longer for PC Palmer, who certainly couldn?t rely on his leadership for help. Quote:

PC Palmer regained his feet and staggered past Sir Craig?s car, pursued by Masood, who was then shot dead by the close protection officer for Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary at the time. End of quote.

It?s said that police, like firefighters and other rescuers, are those who run toward danger, not from it. Apparently, that doesn?t hold true at the top.