AN emergency call handler got a true taste of life on the frontline as he attended a sudden death 30 minutes into his first shift as a Special Constable.
Richard Demynn works in Dyfed-Powys Police’s control centre taking 101 and 999 calls from people in need of assistance, will now also attend incidents as a volunteer officer.
The 53-year-old took his attestation into the Special Constabulary on Sunday, January 7, and had his first shift lined up two days later.
Through his role as a call handler, SC Demynn was well aware that anything could happen at any time, but he was not expecting to be called to attend a sudden death less than half an hour after arriving at Carmarthen Police Station.
He said: “It was not the start I thought I would have, but my Special Sergeant congratulated me for how I dealt with the family in respect of dignity and empathy.
“It reinforced why I wanted to be a Special, and I felt immensely proud of working with the people I did on that night.
“There were three other officers there and a paramedic, who were all amazing.”
Later on his shift he assisted in conveying a victim of domestic violence to a safe address.
While on duty, SC Demynn has the same powers as a regular officer. He will go on foot and car patrol, could be sent to incidents ranging from antisocial behaviour and criminal damage, to public disorder and assaults, and has the power of arrest. The only difference between a Special and a regular officer is that the time they give to the force – a minimum of 16 hours a month – is voluntary.
The newest Special recruits come from different walks of life, live across the Dyfed-Powys force area and their age range spans 35 years. The one thing they have in common is the desire to serve their communities as a volunteer officer.
“It is such a diverse group of people coming from all different backgrounds,” SC Demynn said.
“I have made a lot of good friends who will be friends for life. We’ve been through this training together and we know that the rest of the group is there to support us if we need it.
“Equally, the existing Specials have given us a lot of support. They’ve taken us on station tours and will buddy us up with a regular when we’re on duty.”
The group of trainees have spent eight weekends together in training sessions covering aspects of law, officer safety, conflict management and how to make an arrest.
“The training has been intense,” SC Demynn said, just before his first shift.
“When you think that when regular police officers are in training they do 9am-5pm for 32 weeks, and we do two days every other weekend for eight weeks, it’s crazy.
“The physical side of it is hard work as you’re learning how to take people down and arrest them – and in the back of your mind you know that you might have to do this for real at any time.
“I feel really proud wearing the uniform, and it really brings it home that we’re going to be police officers. Until now we’ve been in the gym and the classroom, but soon we’ll have stab vests and parva spray, which will make it very real.
“There are people I work with every day who have walked past me in my uniform and not realised who I am.”
Following an 11-month process of application, interview, vetting and training, SC Demynn finally went out on patrol this week, achieving a goal that has been in the back of his mind for 30 years.
“Looking back, I think I always wanted to be a police officer,” he said.
“When I was around 22 or 23 years old I lived in London and I went to the Met police station. Someone said to me ‘you wear glasses, so you’d be a liability to yourself and your colleagues’. That was the attitude back then.
“30 years later I thought ‘I can do it’ and decided to apply.
“And here I am.”
Recruitment for Dyfed-Powys Police Special Constables will open in early February. Follow @DPPSpecials on Twitter, Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police on Facebook, or visit https://www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/join-the-police/special-constables/ for information on applying.