Jonathan Behan, known as Jon, volunteers as a Special Constable with Bedfordshire Police alongside his day-job in insurance.
I had always wanted to be a police officer.
At the age of 13, I can remember running to the back door looking at all the police cars going past the house with their blue lights and sirens on.
At the age of 15, I did two weeks work experience with Bedfordshire Police based at Luton. This was during the July 2005 bombings which opened my eyes up to the work that police do. I quickly realised it’s not all about fast cars and flashing lights, it’s about helping people in a time of crisis.
A little while after my work experience I attended a career day at my local police headquarters and spoke to a few members of staff. They advised it would be best to get some life experience behind me then apply when I am older. Life took over at 22 and I had my first child. I then took a step away from pursuing my career with the police to concentrate on my family.
I am now the grand old age of 30 and currently work for a large insurance company dealing with personal injuries. I joined Bedfordshire Police as a Special Constable in July 2019 and am currently based in the South which covers Luton, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard.
Taking the first step – I applied for the Special Constable role through the Bedfordshire Police website.
I got through the application process! I decided to choose a three week intensive course with additional training for eight Mondays after attestation (graduation).
The initial three weeks intensive training included personal safety training, cell extraction and handcuffing, along with practical situation training including role plays and a lot of classroom training on law and professional behaviours. During our evening sessions, we learnt more about law, decision making and how to spot vulnerable victims. We also had to do a lot of homework, including online training.
Being a Special means the world to me.
My children are proud that their father has become a volunteer police officer. It also gives me a sense of pride knowing that I can make a real difference to people I interact with. I love the variety of the role and the people you work with.
Although I have not been a Special for long, one of my favourite moments of becoming a Special was the day we attested. It was a long day with our final test and role plays but seeing my family over the moon that their dad, son, brother and partner managed to achieve a goal that he worked hard for meant a lot to me.
I was part of a cohort of 14 and at times some of us struggled with the learning phase, however, my cohort came together to help and everyone achieve the end goal of being sworn in by the magistrate.
I couldn’t have done it without the support of my cohort and family.
As a Special, you get some flexibility to choose what you would like to do.
One day I could be working a road block as part of an operation, the next day I could be helping the local community teams establish good working relationships with their communities.
I also enjoy attending 999 calls with the response teams. You could be dealing with a domestic related incident one minute and the next you could attend an armed robbery.
When you put that uniform on, you become the face of Bedfordshire Police and people young and old do look up to you. When I go out, I try to engage with people as much as I can to ensure that any perceptions of the police they may have can be changed for the better.
The role of a Special is very broad and no two shifts are ever the same and I feel I am helping make a difference.
I have learnt how to be assertive but remain focused on the end goal.
I’ve also learnt that no two situations are the same and an open mind is essential when approaching any situation in order for us to gain all the necessary information and facts. I have been using these new skills lot on my two sons, who do love having a fight with each other, and found that the fighting has now calmed down, which is a relief for their mother!
The most important skill I’ve gained, without a doubt, is to remain positive and focused. No matter how tough the situation gets, if you remain focused and positive, you can walk away knowing you have done all you can to resolve the situation.
I have gained a lot of skills that help me day to day. One of the main skills I have learnt is how to calm down a situation and work with someone to achieve an end result. I have managed to transfer this skill over to my day to day work and have actually seen an improvement.
I have also learnt how to fully adapt my approach to specific situations to ensure that people I deal with can walk away knowing they have been treated with respect.
Bedfordshire Police has quickly become my extended family.
Everyone I have dealt with from recruitment all the way through to Inspectors have been nothing but supportive and understanding. Everyone looks out for one another. Every day is a school day and regardless of being new or a 20 year veteran, you will always learn something new.
Although my work does not support the Employer Supported Policing programme, they have been very flexible in allowing me time off to attend training and targeted operations. The ESP programme allows more people the flexibility to volunteer with the police and in return gain invaluable skills that can be transferred back into their working environment.
If you are thinking of applying to become a Special, do some homework and see if the role is for you. If it is, then do it.
If you would like to find out more about the role of a special constable and apply click here.