There seems to be some confusion in some areas of the SLT of specialist support services at CTCC about those who go out onto the streets with their canine friends. There will always be an exeption somewhere but, by and large, they want to be out on the streets supporting colleagues on the groups/response on District using their specialist skills helping them catch the bad guys, finding offenders or lost people, finding property, a bit of public order, football related violence, preventing & detecting crime, operating within other specialism of drugs, explosive and firearms support as well as probably the next most important thing.
Just turning up to back up and awaiting for a thumbs up that everything and everyone is alright. The close proximity of the 4 legged confidence booster. Sorted. This does not get counted or measured but it still matters.
This confusion is not in the minds of the officers on the frontline, 24/7, or the dog handlers but in those who seem to want to change things and make them appear to be better.
Better for who exactly ?
Not better for the response officers. Certainly not better for the dog handlers. But better, much , much better for the people who decide what is trendy and what is not. What is going to be a organisational target and what is not. What the Divisional managers want handlers to do or what they think is important for them to do.
Then at the regular round of management, intel, strategic or any other number of top level meetings, someone who has been given ‘ownership’ of something can say that he/she has allocated and directed this/that resource at a problem, this/that has been achieved and the monitoring will continue in line with new intel or change in various trends. Handlers are told what to do with the managements idea of their downtime and result in being better and more efficiently used. Tea, biscuits & medals all round.
Trouble is this takes handlers further and further away from their real and true ‘customers’. The response teams/groups/beats or whatever entity they call it round your way.
Customers is a good and solid corporate word. It creates an illusion of value and committment and sounds positive, especially in a strategic and corporate marketting sort of world where meetings and strategic planning are the number one topics. The Government’s and Force’s targets and priorities become Departmental targets and priorities and then become individual targets and priorities. To swerve from the party line is tantamount to treason. Itis simply not promoting the brand.
In my time, like many other handlers it appears, we were simply not capable of working out where to allocate our time nor were we able to target patrol time towards anything meaningful without the aid of being told, care of the chain of command and associated intel, analytical or managerial experts, who deemed me to be incompetant or just downright too lazy to make my mind up. The fact that I had been able to do this for a number years has suddenly no relevance at all. This cannot be measured or be accountable nor does it leave an auditable trail, so is deemed unworthy.
Its a good job then, that some Forces are reducing the numbers of Dog Handlers they have so this menace to society can be realised into assets that can better serve the communities and the customers. There itis again, that word. The fewer will be making things safer, much safer, for the community or the neighbourhood you understand.
So with the passing of time and the reduction in dog handlers you are safe in the knowledge that more officers carrying Tazers amongst ther growing arsenal of PPE and the flying eyes in the sky can respond to the customers as long as itis before the witching hour when flying is banned, whatever that may be. As long as they can afford the fuel that is.
You will be safe in the knowledge that your SLT’s are supporting and protecting you by hitting their budgetary targets and reducing the amount of support you will have available to you. Working together for a safer community, wonderful. Probably strategic is in there somewhere as well.
From general information it appears that some Force’s ideas are at a complete different state from others. Some see the dogs, the costs, the time and effort in training a total waste of money and are making efforts to re-structure the effort towards other means. Some are doing away with sections of this valuable resource in limited numbers or in large chunks.
Due to the lack of frontline response resources, Dog Handlers are getting into a position where they may as well leave their dogs in the kennels. A couple of things are certain.
Handlers will be missed when we are diluted down into next to nothing, for all the reasons that experienced frontline officers know about and bean counters & efficiency savings machinery do not even consider. Good news there as another relevant target will have been hit.
Dog handlers are generally not about skiving for an easy life. To all too many people, who do not or refuse to understand, we are simply someone who they think has a cushy little number. They think handlers turn up, do sod all and bugger off again.
A Dog handler is a Police officer with an animal. This animal take a great deal of time and commitment. This animal takes more of my time than I care to think about but I do not count this time. For the most part they care about what they do and how they do it. They try to do this as best as they can.
My animal did not care about the latest strategic decisions or the latest tasking. My animal wanted to go out hunting, that is what he did and that is why I had him. This can make things a lot easier when it works.
The world is changing. The efforts to save money are changing. It will not get any better.
Control is given by people who talk with fork tongue, speak their words with a smile on their face and want you to trust in their words and believe in what they say. This is supported by political agenda and the ability of only a select few to SEE the bigger picture. Their picture.
Frontline Police, well they want to get on with their job for the most part and do the things that can help to make our communities safer and lower the crime rate by locking up the offenders. Nothing fancy, strategic or tactical, just practical frontline policing. This is not glossed up by the latest popular Police management speak. This is common policing sense at its very basic.
After all, dog handlers are still frontline Police officers who work around the clock, even when it gets dark. Not a lot of people appear to know that. But the ones who really appreciate this know, that is what really counts.
The most important thing is that far more response officers are pleased to see a dog handler than are pissed of when the dog handler arrives, often without calling on the radio. The problem is that are not enough dog handlers to go around, because of the changes in the way the management see the world, through their spreadsheets, league tables of things that have been measured and the never ending desire for reducing budgets dressed up as efficiency savings and workforce modernisation.
At the CTCC there are not that many General Purpose handlers. Most have a second dog to offer a further specialism, yet the management team seem intent on reducing the number of General Purpose dogs, increasing the amount of extra drugs dogs and disbanding the Section into separate entities. All in the name of progress and change. There are already signs of early hand wringing over the perceived extra demand for Explosive detection dogs in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. There are no officers left in the pool so where exactly they will be beamed in for this is a total mystery.
Some of the management appear to have their own special view of the shiny thing called reality.
Dog handlers…………….don’t appear to fit into the world of response policing. Too staff intensive and lacks proven results.
Dog handlers…………….appear to fit into pre-planned operations and targetting. Less staff intensive and intel driven providing better value for money.
That way we can show they are more efficient and effective.
Another example of how well resources are managed.