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Retired police officers are a 'very desirable commodity'

Retired officer Mark Holdgate says there should be an onus on the police service to provide coaching and mentoring to officers about to retire
Published - 24/07/2015 By - Mark Holdgate - Police Oracle

I joined “the job” more than 25 years ago after a couple of years service as a special constable.

We call it “the job” but the reality is, it's anything but a job. 

For me, its been a way of life. I've lived it, I've breathed it and it's dictated countless decisions I've made in my personal life during that time.

Like everyone else, I started on response and patrol and used that time to get a thorough grounding in understanding and applying the law, learning policy, procedures, regulations and refining my gut instinct.

Then I decided to specialise and was posted to traffic - more learning, more courses, more critical decision making.

I became a finely-crafted weapon in the fight against crime, a source of knowledge, comfort and support to the victims of crime and to vulnerable people in their hour of need.

I was that typical British bobby who could always be depended on - whatever, wherever and whenever.

Ten years later I crossed to “the dark-side”. For as long as traffic and CID have existed there has been a rivalry that even England and Scotland couldn't teach.

More learning and more courses. I guess by this point I was what Tom Winsor dreams of – an “omni-competent police officer”. I could pretty much turn my hand to anything the public had to throw at me.

When I hit 20 years service it occurred to me that I'd done two thirds of my time. It really had gone seemingly quickly and my thoughts turned to reaching 30 years.

If I'm honest, I thought about it only briefly because leaving all that I knew scared me. I had no qualifications other than my 'O' Levels outside the job.

All my skills, qualifications and accreditations were job-related. As I marked each additional year's service thereafter, the thoughts kept returning, becoming harder to ignore.

Shortly after marking my 22nd year in the job I was injured on duty. It was a significant injury that would only have one outcome – compulsory retirement on the grounds of ill health.

Not only were my cards dealt, I was being called on them too. My answer came from the most unlikely person I could have ever imagined. A retired Chief Inspector from PSD and now a business coach/mentor.

I uttered the words “what skills or qualifications have I got that are of any use outside the job?” I got that well-versed “PSD stare” followed by that predictable, tedious, training department reply to a question - “what do you think?”

Retired police officers are a very desirable commodity outside the service. The average cop at 30 years likely has the equivalent of five lifetimes worth of life experience compared to the average person and employers know it.

Don't believe the negativity of the media – your integrity is highly valued and regarded. Customer service, conflict resolution, professionalism, pride, tenacity, courage and everything you do without having to think about it every day is strong currency in the market place.

Perhaps there should be an onus on the police service to provide coaching and mentoring to officers about to retire in much the same way the military do. After 30 (or more) years of unstinting public service, a piece of paper saying “thanks” on its own is meaningless.

Now I have a mentor the doubts and fears I had about my place outside the police service have been allayed. My advice to anyone about to retire would be to seek one out as they are invaluable.

The private sector wants you, it really does.

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