“A role for everyone” – retiring cop reflects on 30 years of policing opportunities
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PC Jason Potts is currently part of the Derbyshire Roads Policing Unit and can often be seen keeping the county’s roads safe on Channel 5’s ‘Traffic Cops’.
The 49-year-old joined the force at just 19, beginning as a regular police officer patrolling streets in a number of Derbyshire towns and villages. In the 30 years since, he has specialised in road crime and tackled a wide range of incidents, events and roles.
Derbyshire Constabulary is currently recruiting in a range of policing roles and as part of the force’s drive to welcome a number of new officers, PC Potts has spoken about the opportunities policing can offer and the chances to specialise after becoming an officer.
He said: “I applied for several forces when I was 18 or 19, I just wanted to do the role. I got accepted by Derbyshire and snatched their hands off. I was so fortunate that I got Derbyshire which is just such an amazing and beautiful place to work and live.
“At that stage I was a regular section police officer with the uniform, big hat, walking around the beat, interacting with people.
“We had rural cars and we had response cars, so all the emergency calls would be attended by the response car. I did that for a few years and I enjoyed that so much that the natural step for me was to go on the roads policing department.
“There’s a role for everyone. I’ve found that I’ve worked on officer teams where we would call some of our colleagues the ‘thief takers’ and you know that they will do their best to arrest somebody if they know they’ve committed an offence.
“Then, you’ll get police officers that become amazing investigators and they go on to investigate the most serious crimes – and you’ll also get people who are great with victims, and the service needs all these different characters.
“It’s an opportunity where you start off being a police officer in uniform, you find what you’re interested in, and the force will invest time and money into making you the best you can be.”
Having always been fascinated with the cars and finding a niche with the roads policing incidents he encountered, Jason jumped at the chance to join the specialist unit as soon as there were job vacancies.
“I think when I joined Roads Policing as a young man there was an appetite for the road crime side of it, with the best cars, the best training. It most certainly improves your driving skills beyond anything you could imagine,” he added.
“Because of those skills, I was later able to do assist with the VIP unit and there’s a lot of pride to being given the opportunity to do that role with that type of people.
“The VIP team are motorcyclists, and we’re trained to a higher tier so that we can support dignitaries. Personally, I’ve assisted when William, Kate and Prince Charles came to Derbyshire and Leicestershire, and I’ve been very fortunate to be part of that and to see how smoothly something can happen as a result of that team.
“That’s what we all join for, to keep people safe.
“There can be particular jobs where you have helped somebody and it has been obvious that you have made a positive impact on that person’s life.
“There’s also been jobs where you’ve dealt with real criminals that have again impacted on people’s lives but in a negative way and if you can remove them from doing that again that’s a great sense of pride. It’s why you want to become a police officer – to stop them from doing that to other people.
“Several years ago I was working with one of my colleagues, Alex, in Derby and such a criminal was driving a vehicle. This individual decided he wasn’t going to stop and it wasn’t until the vehicle overturned that we realised his partner and very young child were in the vehicle, and the car burst into flames.
“Myself and Alex rescued them from this burning car and also managed to arrest the driver and he was sent to prison.”
Jason has recently become a familiar Derbyshire face after the team were approached by the producers of Traffic Cops, which airs on Channel 5. Recalling the experience, he says that it’s been an invaluable insight for the public into the service which keeps them safe.
“It’s quite a strange sensation to have a camera with you all the time, but as a result of being part of that, the amount of positivity it has created has kind of shocked me. We get contacted by people all over the world who watch it, that are regular people from all walks of life, saying how we make them feel safe.
“We join the police service because we want to make the world a better place at the end of the day. None of us are superheroes, we’re all regular people from all walks of life.
“As part of ‘Traffic Cops’ we’ve opened people’s eyes to say these are the kind of individuals we have to deal with on a daily basis. It has allowed the general public to see an insight into the police that they wouldn’t normally see.
“A lot of people have contacted me or stopped me to say ‘because I’ve watched you on the tele I want to do that’.
“Don’t get me wrong, there will be bad bits from any walk of life, in every occupation. On the other side of that, you will get stories where a police officer has done something incredible and even colleagues, myself included, have see colleagues do things that inspired me.
“I’ll be retiring soon, I’ll be that member of the public, I will no longer be wearing this uniform and I’ll no longer have the powers of a police officer. I will hope that the police that are still serving can keep me safe.
“From my own personal experience of before I became a police officer, it’s very difficult to know what the role is, so I would advise anyone thinking of joining to seek out anyone with that kind of knowledge.
“Speak to police officers. I am certain that if you see them and stop them and say ‘have you got two minutes, can I ask you a question – I’m thinking about joining, what do you think?’, they will give you an honest answer.”
“It’s a tough occupation but very rewarding, if you put your heart and soul into it you’ll get a lot back. It can be intimidating and perhaps not for the faint hearted, but there are roles for everybody.”