Special Superintendent celebrates 40 years of voluntary service
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Special Superintendent Howard Rayner is celebrating an incredible 40 years of service with Essex Police.
Howard, 67, has combined his voluntary police work with his career as the managing director of a tile company in Colchester.
He was recently presented with a Lord Ferrers letter of recognition for his dedicated public service to add to the British Empire Medal he was awarded in 2019, and an Essex Police Long Service and Good Conduct accolade he was given by Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington.
As a S/Superintendent, Howard manages a team of 60 officers in the Chelmsford and Braintree districts and said he still loves police work as much as ever.
“I try to go out operationally whenever I can and enjoy contact with the public. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction that I can contribute to the policing of Essex.
“The best part about my role is as a Special is over the years the job has given me an avenue for stress relief away from my business, in a completely different world.”
When Howard joined the force in 1983, Margaret Thatcher was beginning her second term in office, a pint of beer would cost you less than 70p, and Culture Club were dominating the charts with ‘Karma Chameleon’.
He was encouraged to become a Special by a serving officer after he apprehended a man who’d kicked in a shop window.
Howard said: “I went over and grabbed the perpetrator by the scruff and called the police. I made a statement to a PC, and he asked if I’d ever considered joining the Special Constabulary. 40 years later, we’re still friends.”
Howard has served under seven chief constables and said a highlight of his service was two trips to New York for the Protect the Protectors memorial visits to Ground Zero.
He said: “Marching down Central Avenue with 250 other police officers from round the country was very moving. Listening to 3,000 people’s name being read out, you’d find it very difficult not to have a tear in your eye.”
Another of Howard’s most memorable moments was early in his career when a foot patrol around Chelmsford on one of the busiest nights of the year resulted in him winning a commendation.
He said: “It was New Year’s Eve, and we were out on patrol in Chelmsford when one of the pubs started to get a bit rowdy. As we were walking past the pub, someone has decided to throw a bottle out the window and it’s hit our divisional commander on the forehead!
“He decided to get every officer available within 50 miles to come in and close this pub down. This is ten thirty in the evening on New Year’s Eve!
“The Chief Superintendent is walking around with a huge welt on his head, and he turns to me and one of the other specials and says, ‘You can go upstairs and clear that lot out!’” Howard said, laughing.
Officers in our Special Constabulary have to commit to 16 hours a month and although Howard said he appreciates that in a difficult economic climate people may not have the free time to volunteer, he would encourage anyone who enjoys helping people and working in a team to consider joining.
He added: “Being a Special becomes a way of life and you make great friends. We are like a family. We are fully operational and have the same powers as regular officers, which I don't think many people realise. You may have a day job that is not that interesting but by becoming a Special you get to experience the excitement of policing while helping to keep your community safe.”
My other life
Special Constables are volunteer Police Officers. They have the same police powers, uniforms and equipment as regular Police Officers but sacrifice their free time on a voluntary basis, organising their busy personal lives, day jobs and other commitments around police duties.