That’s the advice from one of our dog handlers to anyone wanting to join the force.
There are many specialised roles within policing that once qualified, officers can progress into. To understand more about the role of being a dog handler, we sat down with PC Terry Davidson. Terry is handler to General Purpose Dog (GPD) Benson and Cash, Drug and Weapons Dog PD Taffy.
Terry joined the force as a PC in 2014 after serving as a special constable for seven years, and progressed to his dream career as a dog handler in 2020.
What made you want to become a dog handler?
Terry (T): “It sounds cliché, but it is what I joined the job for. I always wanted to be a police officer as a kid. I grew up in a high crime area that was anti-police but I always remember, even as a kid wanting to be an officer, wanting to make a difference.
“I knew that once I was a police officer, I wanted to be a dog handler. I have been around dogs all my life. My dad trained greyhounds and we always had them in our home - 10 in total! I used to be by his side training and showing them, learning all about dog training and behaviour.
“After I had trained to be a cop, I served in neighbourhood, Fortify [organised crime] and response teams, all of which provided me with knowledge and skills that have enabled me to progress my police career.”
In 2021 PC Davidson was paired up with GPD PD Benson and the pair just clicked.
How would you describe your relationship with Benson?
T: “I get emotional when I talk about him, because we’re best mates, and I can’t rave about him enough. The stuff he can do is amazing and doesn’t compare to any piece of equipment. We work together, we live together, he’s by my side every day.
“We have been in many situations together where I know he has my back. I can trust him, which doesn’t just happen overnight. Our relationship has been built on hard work, challenging situations that have led to me knowing, I can rely on him.
“At home he is a completely different dog. Me and him sit on sofa, we relax and watch television.”
To qualify as a dog handler, the officer and dog must be put through their paces during a 13 week course. Following the course, they are then tested independently and as a pair for their control and behaviour.
How was your training?
T: “During my initial training I enjoyed learning about dogs’ behaviour and mannerisms. Even with basic dog knowledge, training a police dog is completely different; these dogs are not pet dogs, there’s no safety catch; you have to be aware constantly.”
What’s your biggest achievement?
T: “I have to mention the recent Federation Police Award that PD Benson and me achieved for his bravery. PD Benson detained an armed man, after being attacked by his pet pit bull dog.
“But my biggest achievements, and proudest days, are the day I qualified as a police officer, and the day I became a dog handler. It’s everything I have ever dreamed of.”
What are the best parts of your job?
T: “Being able to come to work with Benson and Taffy. Having them at home and then coming to work with your best friends, and the results that we get while here, it’s why we do it.”
What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining the force?
T: “Go for it! I joined the job at the age of 34. It’s never too late. But make sure you understand the job of being a police officer, and what you are going into.
“You need to be proactive, no half measures, you’ve got to get stuck in. You want to join to be a cop, you don’t want to join to be a firearms officer, or dog handler, you’ve got to be prepared to put in the graft. If opportunities arrive, and you work hard, you will get to where you want to be.
“I would also recommend if you are able to, being a cadet or special constable, so you have some on the job training.”
We are recruiting police officers until 31 August and we have two entry routes, depending on your circumstances. If you think you could be the future of South Yorkshire Police, you can find out more and apply now: https://www.southyorks.police.uk/sign-up/join-team-syp/be-the-future-join-us/
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