“I was about eight or nine when a local bobby came into my school to give us a talk about policing. I knew then that’s what I wanted to do – especially when I found out they got to work with dogs because I wasn’t allowed one at home. I later discovered the internal combustion engine and became a motorcycle fanatic and realised that police officers rode them too, so there were my future career hopes set in stone!
“On 14 January 1991, at the age of 25, my ambitions and dreams were realised when I became PC 468 Steve Harrington. Soon afterwards, I was christened Jack by my colleagues - a name which has stayed with me throughout my career.”
When Jack retires this month, he’s not only taking thirty years’ worth of memories with him - he’s also taking his retiring police dog Norman.
Jack spent nine and a half years as a traffic officer, a secondment onto the motorway turned into a full time role within two months, he spent eight years as a dedicated police traffic motorcyclist and has been a police dog handler for the last 16 years.
Additional to his other duties, Jack was also a Family Liaison Officer (FLO) for eight years and supported up to seven families at a time. While it was emotionally draining he enjoyed working with people during the hardest time of their lives. Being a FLO gave Jack the most job satisfaction.
Norman, Jack’s ten-year-old spaniel has had a career with almost as many highlights as Jack’s has! He started off as a nervous dog who was even scared of trees. Jack had him for four months before he started his training where his potential soon shone through.
Since then, Norman has an exemplary record as a successful search dog. Jack recalls one occasion Norman found thousands of pounds worth of drugs buried in a wooded area, but before they could be recovered the drug dealers came, dug them up and moved them to another part of the field. Needless to say, it didn’t take Norman long to find them again. The dealers were caught and were given long custodial sentences.
“Norman and I have reached retirement together, despite having a total of seven operational dogs throughout my service, Norman will be the first police dog I’ll have kept as a pet. He’s such a character and we have built an incredible bond during our time working together.
“So much so that if anyone else attempts to walk him he has to check I’m not there. Once he’s satisfied I’m not there to take him he’ll begrudgingly go out with another handler. He is regularly described as the dog that would lay on his master’s grave!”
Keen not to completely sever his links with the force, Jack has already applied for a civilian role to work with new recruits.
Advice he’d pass on to those recruits includes: “Firstly join the job to do the job, concentrate on becoming a good competent cop prior to looking to specialise in any particular aspect of policing. You don’t get things handed to you, you have to work hard, do your research, roll your sleeves up and get on with it.
“Be realistic about what you might have to deal with and what you’re expected to do on a daily basis but trust me, the highs you get out of the job make everything worth it. It’s not all blue lights and excitement, there are lots of mundane tasks. However, I truly believe that there is no other job like it.”