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Police Officers on patrol

Why did you join the Police Service?

My simple answer to this question is: ‘It was my dream as a little girl.’ This answer is correct, but doesn’t tell the whole story.

From listening to other colleagues answer this question, observing how they work and getting to know them as individuals, I believe people join the Police Service for two reasons: to look for something more or to prove they are something more.

What I mean by ‘looking for something more’, is to be challenged and motivated on a daily basis. In a Police Constable role, you can never know everything (no matter how hard you try) and you can never know what call is going to come next on the radio. You will never have ‘heard it all’ or will never have the ‘same old day at the office’.

It can be a very exciting and a fast paced environment to work in. What’s more, there is always a course, training or development opportunity available where you can push yourself that little bit further out of your comfort zone.

I, for example, have just recently completed my Public Order training. Something that, (in all honesty due to my own lack of self-confidence and perceived physical limitations), I thought I would never complete. I thought I’d just make a fool out of myself for attending. In reality, I actually had the most unbelievable experience of; endurance, teamwork, friendship, companionship, trust, learning and excitement I have ever had.

Never have I ever thought I would have completed half the things I did on that course and alongside some of the most amazing people. I cannot wait for another opportunity to push myself and have that feeling of accomplishment and achievement again.

What I mean by ‘to prove something more’, is to want something more for myself, my family and my community.

I want my job, my life, my day to day activity to not just be about ‘paying the bills’ (which it more than does), but to be about meaning and purpose. I want to feel that I go to work and change someone’s life, to give something back to the community.

I have had cause in my life to contact the Police and the service, help and support I was given was unbelievable.

When I come to work I put on a uniform and become someone and something more than what I am. I am strong, resilient, empathetic, compassionate and more. As a Police Constable I feel I have had to be so many things and dynamically change as and when is required.

I have only recently completed the file on an investigation which I began a few weeks into my service as a probationer. It was a very complicated series of events, with a number of offences (some of which I didn’t even know existed). It was an investigation where I felt great sympathy and empathy for the victim.

The victim’s whole life, family, home, work and community were impacted. With the many emails, statements, photographs, exhibits, interviews, knocks on sergeant’s doors to ask for advice and guidance, I have finally been able to deliver a result for the victim. Although I cannot discuss what that is, I know it will change her life and give her the relief and conclusion she more than deserves.

So if you ever ask me why I joined the Police Service, I may just say ‘because that was my dream as a little girl’ but, in reality, it is always going to be much, much more than that.

What do you enjoy most about your role as a Probationary Police Officer?

I have enjoyed the learning - learning about the area I now work in.

I have learnt how diverse the community is and how people live such different lives compared to my own experience. I have enjoyed putting what I have learnt in the police college into practice in order to help make the local area a safer place to live.

I have been able to speak to so many people and get an insight into different communities. The fact that every day is so different and I don’t know what I will experience is something I relish. I can never pre-empt a working day and I feel that helps me build experience and develop as a police officer.

I feel I have joined a massive family. The support and guidance I have received has been both reassuring and overwhelming.

I want my job, my life, my day to day activity to not just be ‘paying the bills’, but to be about meaning and purpose. I want to feel that I go to work and change someone’s life, to give something back to the community.

Constable Dutton , Police Service of Northern Ireland

What do you enjoy most about your role as a Probationary Police Officer?

The craziness!

Literally, the absolute variety of the places you go, the people you meet, the stories you hear, the experiences you have and the fact that it is hard for anyone outside of the police to understand this.

Deep down I think that this is what helps us all bond as a team because we understand the special position and privilege we hold.

I love the fact that it could be 3am in the morning on a night shift and the shift has been steady. You are at a computer, updating your case files, checking your emails and boom! A call comes in and before you know it, there are colleagues scrambling to cars, the lights and sirens are on, you are trying to satnav to where you need to be and you’re trying to get a break on the radio to reply. There is a sense of adrenaline and, if we’re honest, a sense of ‘Arghhhh’ filled with ‘what if, what if, what if’.

I love it. In no other job will you ever experience that feeling, it’s so hard to describe.

What do you find most challenging?

I love honesty, and I want to be completely honest in sharing my experiences.
The help and support the Training College gave me was a fantastic platform to help me transition from civilian to police officer.

But as a constable in a Local Policing Team you can never know everything or, for that matter, be the best at everything. Being open and honest and admitting when you’re wrong or don’t know the answer or don’t know what to do, can be hard and no one ever really wants to admit it either. I found this my most challenging adversity to overcome. The fear of not knowing and admitting it.

It took me some time to get off my ‘high horse’, but that it why you will always be a part of a team, a support network with your sergeants and inspectors at the helm. They may get paid to do their job but they are in the role they are because they want to help and support you. Their team is only as strong as its weakest member. This is not a competition. There are no winners or losers. We provide a service and want to make it the best we can and deliver it in the most efficient and safest way. Admitting you ‘don’t know’ is okay. If I had a pound for every time I knocked on my poor sergeant’s door and asked ‘for a moment of her time’, I’d be a very wealthy woman. In fact, I’m surprised there’s not more wear and tear in the carpet outside her office!

In all honesty, there is sometimes no better feeling than seeing the face of a colleague when I don’t have the knowledge and they have or know the answer.

I have learnt to accept that I don’t hold all the answers and, with the support of my team, have become relaxed and comfortable enough to admit my limitations and seek help when I need it. This has helped me to overcome the fear of not knowing what or when to do something.

We are all are own worst critics but my experience as a probationary officer has helped me to relax and enjoy the journey of learning and experiencing something new.

What do you hope to achieve in your career?

Experiences, experiences, experiences!

I want to come into work and enjoy what I do. I want to feel enthused, supported and challenged. Whatever and wherever I end up, I want that to be my reasoning.

Some may wish to go for promotion and I will wholeheartedly support them in their progress but for me, for now, I am more than happy to enjoy my journey and appreciate each step I take, with the experiences and learning that come hand in hand with that.

Most people automatically believe that the only way for progression is up, but the most fantastic thing about the Police Service is the amount of options and opportunities to move sideways.