Volunteer policing: Do you have what it takes?

What better way is there to volunteer within your community than to volunteer to protect your community? That is the question that Chris Duggan, the Commandant of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s Special Constabulary, asks when talking about the importance and value of volunteering in the community, and the reason why he has been a part of the Special Constabulary for the last 12 years.

“Not only has my involvement in the Special Constabulary afforded me the opportunity to give back to my community, it has also provided me with invaluable learning experiences that have been instrumental in my own personal development over the years. From my interaction with some of the most violent individuals in our society, to assisting and positively impacting the lives of some of the most vulnerable, being a Special Constable has been one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, experiences of my life.”

Formed back in the early 1980s with just a handful of officers, the RCIPS Special Constabulary has now become one of the largest, most dynamic and high profile volunteer organisations in the Cayman Islands.

With an original mandate focused on assisting the RCIPS with the policing of just a few special events each year, the mandate has grown significantly over the years and the Special Constabulary is now a fully integrated part of the RCIPS, responsible for policing all special events on the calendar while at the same time playing an integral part in the every day policing of the Islands.

RCIPS Special Constables have the same powers of arrest as regular police officers and carry out largely the same duties as regular officers, the main difference being that Special Constables are community volunteers and are therefore not paid to do the work that they do.

Although volunteers, all Special Constables are fully trained and duly sworn in officers of the crown, and with that comes all the responsibilities to that of regular officers. The uniforms are the same, the work is the same, the risks are the same and the expectations to uphold the law and integrity of the RCIPS are the same. Also the same is the expectation that once the RCIPS have invested the time, money and trust in the training and commissioning of the officers, that they diligently perform all the roles and responsibilities required of them.

Special Constables are required to work a minimum of six special events each year and a minimum of 15 duty hours per month at one of the district police stations, including the Sister Islands.

The 15 duty hours each month can involve a wide range of duties, depending on the skills, experience and goals of each officer and can involve attachment to district patrol units, traffic patrol units, marine enforcement units and a number of other units that would benefit from the skills, experience and training of the individual officer.

The Special Constabulary has a number of officers with specialised skills and training that can be of significant benefit to the RCIPS and so, where these skills are identified as being potentially beneficial to a specific area of the RCIPS, the officer will be assigned to work with that unit. Based on these specific skills, Special Constables have in the past been assigned to the Financial Crimes Unit, CID, Drugs Task Force, Marine Unit and a range of other units and specialist back office administrative functions.

“There is a role for everybody, whether you are looking to assist on the front line where all the action is, or whether you want to assist behind the scenes helping to take reports and man the front desk at the police stations, we have space for everybody who wants to make a difference in their community,” adds Deputy Commandant Arthur McTaggart.

Given the nature of the job, and the potential challenging and volatile situations that may be faced in the course of duty, whether responding to reports, interacting with the community, or giving evidence in the courtroom, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify as a Special Constable.

All recruits are required to pass fitness tests, verbal tests and written tests, and must also perform to a high standard at interview. After that, each recruit must satisfactorily complete the intense training programme and pass all the associated tests. Once all of this has been accomplished, the new recruits will be sworn in as RCIPS Special Constables and their rewarding role of serving and protecting their community, while growing as individuals, will begin.

The Special Constabulary is one of the few volunteer organisations around that offers the opportunity for growth and development, both as an individual and in terms of promotion within the organisation. There is a rank structure consisting of six different ranks, ranging from Constable through to Commandant.

Through regular training courses, in addition to “on the job” experiences, officers are continuously developed to ensure that they are fully equipped with the knowledge and training to effectively and safely carry out the functions of a police officer.

This frequent and ongoing training provides individual learning experiences that the officers would otherwise not receive in their regular jobs and also provides development and leadership opportunities that will help them progress both in their full time careers in addition to their careers as a Special Constable.

Being a Special Constable is a privilege and affords each officer with opportunities to develop in so many ways. Officers are trained in areas that they otherwise would not ever be trained in, and experience situations, both good and bad, that are often life changing both for them and for the wider community.

To be able to have such a profound impact on the lives of so many people and to experience so many life changing situations, while at the same time giving back to the community, is an opportunity that should not be missed.

you want to find out more about how you can get involved in the Special
Constabulary please contact the Commandant, Mr. Chris Duggan, at [email protected] or visit our web page www.specialconstabulary.ky