Force’s most senior special constable retires after 16 years
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Special Chief Inspector Phil Smith will hang up his hat for the last time today (4 September) after 16 years of voluntary service with Leicestershire Police.
In September 2004, Phil, a father of three, decided that he wanted to do something different with his free time and he’s never looked back. He says that being a special constable has changed his life, and he can’t help but smile when he looks back on his service with pride.
“It’s been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t ever change it. When I joined I didn’t ever expect to be a special for this long and I had no idea that there was a rank structure either, let alone that I would climb it. There’s too many highlights to mention but I’ve had opportunities that I would never have had elsewhere.”
Phil’s time with the force spans across three decades and in that time he’s provided support at the funeral of King Richard III, attended a number of royal visits and policed the Olympic torch relay in Leicester.
He says that being a special gave him ambition and a drive that he never knew he had. “It also gave me the confidence to leave a job I didn’t enjoy and pursue karate teaching full time" he says, "I now run a karate school and I’ve never been happier. I love my job and I don’t know if I’d have ever had the confidence to take such a big step if I’d not been a special.”
Phil has been teaching all of his karate classes on zoom but can’t wait to get back to the studio when government restrictions allow.
Phil Smith pictured with his wife, Kim, and their three children
Phil was interested in policing from a young age but after a couple of failed applications he moved on and focused on raising a family. Years passed and his passion reignited when he decided he wanted to help his community and do something new with his free time.
“I would encourage anyone to read up on the Special Constabulary and sign up. I’m so glad that I did. For me, the best part was the variety. After a week of teaching karate to kids I would put on my police uniform, turn up to duty and do anything from showing kids around the police car to helping people through the most serious of situations. It’s a role I’m very proud of.
“It’s not been a case of me dedicating 16 years of my life to the Special Constabulary, it’s been a two way street. I’ve gained skills and experiences that I never would have imagined and have been part of some amazing things. It’s been a privilege and I’ve got a lot of stories for my future grandkids too!”
Chief Constable Simon Cole thanked Phil for his service and said: “Today Phil will hang up his hat, but he will always be part of the policing family. He has achieved a great deal throughout his time with the Special Constabulary and he knows just how much we appreciate his hard work, leadership and service over the last 16 years. I’d also like to thank his wife, Kim, and their children, for being a continuous support to Phil throughout his service.”
Superintendent Adam Slonecki, lead for Volunteers in Policing, added: “Phil’s retirement today marks the end to 16 years of operational policing, for which Phil has been committed to his oath and our Special Constabulary. Phil has been involved in many operations and deployments as a special constable, but what many won’t have seen has been his work behind the scenes to advocate for our specials and to ensure that every officer has the same, if not better, exciting opportunities afforded to them, just as he has had. We will continue to develop and build on work that Phil’s been involved with, and I hope that he keeps in touch. Thank you for your support, leadership and commitment.”
When asked how he would fill his free time going forwards, Phil said that he’d been writing a historical novel throughout lockdown. He’ll be spending time finishing the book and plans to write more afterwards.
Recruitment for Special Constables will open in October 2020 and those interested are encouraged to visit leics.police.uk/couldyou.
Chief Constable Simon Cole thanking Special Chief Inspector Phil Smith for his service to the force.