"I joined to make a difference” meet Chelmsford’s newest officer
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Throughout 2021, we’ve seen hundreds of new officers pass through the doors of Essex Police’s training college.
They’ve gone on to work across the county, responding to emergency calls, protecting and serving the public, catching criminals and delivering justice for victims of crime.
On Friday 17 December, sixty-nine new recruits attested in front of Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington – one of them was PC Keely Duncan, who will be based on Chelmsford’s Local Policing Team.
PC Duncan said that passing out was a “very proud” moment for her and her loved ones. Her dad is in the Army and her mum was an officer in the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland, and our new recruit “can’t wait to follow in their footsteps and make a difference.”
After volunteering with Essex Police as a Special Constable for two years, PC Duncan found herself reflecting on her day job in retail and wondering if she could help her community more. She said:
“Being a Special Constable was full of moments where I knew I’d made a real impact on a victim of crime, or the loved ones of someone who had passed away unexpectedly. “I wanted to make sure I was doing everything to the best of my ability, and I’d always think, well what if it was someone I loved in this situation? How would I want them to be treated by the first person on scene?| “That’s when I realised this is what I want to do forever. I don’t just want to do it one or two days a week – I want to do it for the rest of my life. “People tend to call the police at the worst moments of their life, and I know that if I can make a difference to one person’s experience with the police and make it a positive interaction at a terrible time for them, then it’s all worth it. “Sometimes, you have to be the change you want to see. I want to be the person that responds to emergencies the best way I can, to help as many people as I can.
PC Duncan decided to apply as a full-time police officer, and is glad she made the leap:
“Being a Special was an amazing opportunity and it gave me the push to join as a full-time officer. If you’re considering joining – whether that’s Specials or Regulars – then just do it. You will learn so much and the opportunities for development are endless. There are so many job roles in policing that I didn’t even know about until I started training – I want to try them all!”
PC Duncan acknowledges that the training hasn’t always been easy, but that she’d “loved every second of it” and praised the trainers for their “amazing” support, especially during the pandemic.
Being a Special Constable, and training to be a full-time officer, has taught PC Duncan a lot about herself. She credits policing and her previous job in retail for helping her break out of her shell, and she’s learnt to combine talking down a situation with the necessary authority she might have to use in a challenging, escalating situation.
“When I was working in retail, and when I was a Special, sometimes people would expect me not to be able to do the job because I’m a woman. They don’t think you have anything about you, they just think ‘oh that’s cute that she’s trying to be authoritative’. “But the thing is – if you’re breaking the law, you’re going to get arrested whether it’s myself or a male colleague doing it. There are so many different strengths from everyone in policing, you don’t have to look a certain way or have a certain body type to do the job well. “You know your strengths better than anyone, so you just need to harness them. If you think you might be good at something then try it! You might surprise yourself.”
One of PC Duncan’s highlights throughout training was raising money for the Trussell Trust in Chelmsford as part of a class project. She and her classmates raised £2,000 for the food bank by cycling the length of Land’s End to John o’ Groats.
“They say you’ll make friends for life in the police” she says with a smile “and I do think that’s true.”
Why not start your journey with Essex Police today?
At Essex Police, we value difference, and know that we’re strongest when we all work together.
Our officers have different life experiences, different skills and represent communities from across our county.
We’re here for you and your loved ones in times of emergency, and we’re always looking for new people to join us.