Firstly, what is a special constable? In short, a special constable has the same powers, uniform and responsibilities as regular (paid) police officers but volunteer on a part-time basis.
As I type, 14,000 men and woman across the UK donate at- least 16 hours a month of their spare time to do the job of police officers. 224,000 hours a month of free policing to keep me, you and our community safe.
Right now we’re all on the same page, let’s begin
I’ve managed to squeeze 650 hours of policing into 9 months, is it what I expected? Absolutely not. Was the recruitment advert accurate as to what to expect? not really. Has it changed my perception of the general public? No, not at all. So what has it done for me?
It’s changed my life.
So why did I decide to become a special constable? Simply really. And it starts with history, American history.
I was fortunate to attend one of Scotland’s leading Catholic High Schools and be taught, drama (of all subjects) by the most engaging teacher. For the purposes of this article, let’s call him Brian. Brian taught me one thing, Live Bold and Bloom and living for me doesn’t mean just a day job it doesn’t mean what car you drive, what house you own or what version of iPhone you use its simply this; Serving Creates Meaning.
My view is simple if you want meaning in your life, start with serving others. Find a way to make a difference, even a small difference, and your life will feel purposeful, and upon being sworn in as a special constable you are suddenly overcome with a meaning.
Back to US history.
“It has been said that for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing” – John F. Kennedy.
Sit back, relax and let the world walk past you. Good and bad. Or, get involved, serve your community, do the right thing and create a meaning in your life.
At this stage, I hope you weren’t expecting a list of eye- sight requirements or what type of uniform you wear (that all actually depends on; which force you join, the Police Could You website has loads of those answers).
You’ve researched your local force, you’ve pieced together a literate application, the force has been informed your not twice convicted bank robber, you’ve had your initial training (which comes in many, many different forms) and you have a bag full of shiny new uniform.
So, then someone calls 999 right?
When was the last time you needed the police? When was the last time you dialled 999? Was it a paid or unpaid police officer than rolled up? As expected, you have no idea.
If you were to call 999, you will not be able to tell the difference between a paid and non-paid police officer. It’s simple. We do the same job, we attend the same incidents and more importantly, the expectations are the same. Every time, no exceptions.
Traditionally being a police officer is, well, being a police officer. My experience of policing in 2016 is that along with being a police officer you are also a paramedic, a first responder, a shoulder to cry on, a counsellor, a mental health nurse and in many circumstances a friend to lend an ear. And to be frank, that’s what makes it exciting.
I urge you, find a purpose, a meaning other than your day job spend some of your spare time making a difference in your community. Make a difference in someone’s life, you never know, you might even save one.
Here’s to another 12 months.