90 days from today is Mon, 26 April 2021
23 July 2020
Beginning any new job is tough, however, starting police life during a global pandemic has provided some very unique challenges indeed.
We have featured Pete Bock in our last magazines as he began his time as an officer after joining the Force through the Degree-Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having spent his first few weeks distance learning, Pete has now begun working in Coventry on Response and he says it has been hugely beneficial to be out on the streets learning while on the job.
Along with the rest of his tight-knit cohort, Pete has been forced to distance learn practical elements of the job and, now he has finally started work in Coventry, he has had to risk assess every situation with a lot more detail and try his best to social distance from colleagues in a role where confined spaces are almost unavoidable.
It has also been different to normal police training because, in a job where team work is so important, Pete and his colleagues did not manage to have a night out or go to the pub during their early training.
Pete admits COVID-19 made his opening months a serious challenge. But the fact that he also says he is ‘loving’ his new career having switched from teaching aged 26, proves he is also receiving plenty of support and encouragement from those around him.
“The distance learning stage was challenging and due to illness, I ended up needing to catch up on exams which was not much fun,” said Pete.
“I am enjoying the Response PDU a lot, every day is different and there is a steep learning curve but Team D in Coventry is really supportive, and our tutor, Jon Steed, has been great.
“On response, I have started to learn the bread and butter of policing and have been trying to get my head around the basics. That has involved understanding how to risk assess at the scene and to provide the support people need but also understanding how to write it up and use the computer systems when we have returned to Coventry Central Police Station.
“Balancing study and a full-time job is always going to be challenging. But, again, our tutor is very supportive and the team is quick to help us when we need it. So even with some of the time constraints, we are picking things up as quickly as possible.
“The main difficulties are just the sheer amount there is to learn. The trainers at Tally Ho did their best to provide us with us much guidance as possible but there is only so much you can learn from initial training that is primarily distance learning.
“This means that I didn’t feel too prepared when I arrived on response at Coventry and I am needing to learn all the computer systems now - which is taking time.
“I think the tutor system is working well and being with Team D in Coventry has been the best experience so far because every day I am getting to learn on the job and understand how to do the job from experienced officers.
“I think I was definitely less prepared for entering the Response PDU because of COVID-19. So much of what we did due to the virus was distance learning or had to be modified and I believe we got less practical training than we would have if COVID-19 had not been an issue.
“Our trainers did their absolute best under the circumstances to teach us and get us ready but there are many elements of policing - such as taking statements, practising scenarios, and the practical side of it - that are difficult to learn through distance learning.
“There really is a lot of support though. When I needed to catch up on exams, the training staff at Tally Ho and Staffordshire University were all really helpful and gave me a lot of freedom to plan my own catch-up and to sit the exams when they worked best for me.
“There is still a lot of support available now from both the university and the police side and I think on a day-to-day basis, our tutor and Team D are the people who are helping me the most.”
Pete has spent his time in Coventry so far mainly dealing with emergency calls for incidents such as domestics, mental health calls, one sudden death (so far), anti-social behaviour and violent crime.
And it has been the mental health-related jobs that Pete says he has found the most interesting.
“I am interested in them because of how complex they can be,” says Pete. “Because I am not a mental health expert it is difficult to know how to help, but it feels good to provide support to people who need it and I think the work the triage team do is really vital.”
As with most jobs, the bond and friendship formed with colleagues is something that just cannot be taught and grows over time and experience.
Pete’s cohort have already formed a tight bond, no doubt strengthened by the unprecedented situation they – and the Force - find themselves in.
“West Midlands Police has been really welcoming and supportive, all the way from beginning initial training to now being on our PDU,” says Pete. “I think I have been lucky with the cohort I am in too. The people in it are always up for helping each other out and having a laugh.
“Our cohort is really well connected and we support each other. WhatsApp and group chats help massively. The main difference is we have not had a chance to do a big group night out, or to even go to the pub yet due to lockdown. I am sure that this will happen in time though.
“In Coventry I am with three other student officers from my cohort: Beth, Amir and Brett. Beth and myself have the same tutor (on D Unit) and Amir and Brett are B Unit.
“We are all at the same stage of learning and try to help each other out as much as possible.
There are always little things each of us are picking up at different times and I am learning from them as well as my tutor.
“I have enjoyed most shifts so far and I really like not knowing what the day will bring. My biggest highlight so far is my first arrest; with the subsequent search in custody being less of a highlight.
“We will continue on response and then move to an investigations PDU further down the line.
“At the moment, I look forward to every day and I am loving my new career.”