Meet dog handler PC Dale Jenkins, who is sharing his career journey to inspire future police officers…
Why did you want to join the police?
My dad was a police dog handler and I wanted to be a police officer from as far back as I can remember. It goes without saying that I do the job to make a difference and help the most vulnerable in life, but I have to be honest and say it was watching my dad go flying off to jobs in the dog van and listening to his stories that made me want to do the job. I never had intentions of doing anything else and worked hard to ensure I got the grades at school and applied as soon as I could.
What did you do before you joined?
After leaving school, I completed a two-year public services course at college and worked in retail roles until I was accepted as a Police Community Support Officer in 2006 aged 19 where I served in Hemel Hempstead town centre with the intentions of applying to become a regular police officer when the time was right.
When did you join as a police officer?
Two years later almost to the day, I started my training as a regular constable. It was while I was training that my dad retired after around 31 years as a Herts officer. He started as a beat officer covering South Oxhey before becoming a dog handler and spending around 20 years on the unit. The timing meant I was able to inherit his warrant number 599 when he left, which is very special. I spent 12 years in Hemel Hempstead as an intervention officer before moving to the dog unit in 2020.
What does your role entail?
Operationally I cover three counties, Herts, Beds and Cambs. My police dog, PD Bonnie, a Belgian Malinois, is trained to track human scent and ground disturbance, so I could find myself at all kinds of incidents attempting to trace an individual. We could be called to the scene of a burglary, as she can locate and indicate property and she is trained to detain criminals who run away. She can locate people hiding, for example a driver who has fled the scene of a road traffic collision, safely indicating to me where they are.
A lot of time is spent training PD Bonnie. It’s important to maintain a good standard as police dogs must be licensed every year to ensure they’re safe to go out onto the streets. Also, we want to ensure they continuously progress and improve our chance of getting the results on the streets.
In addition, I will assist with firearms operations, dangerous dog and public order incidents and just being another pair of hands to help other front-line officers if required.
What’s one of the most memorable incidents you have been involved in?
There are so many! Only recently, PD Bonnie and I arrived at the scene of a residential burglary and as I got out of my vehicle, I saw the offender in the upstairs bedroom. We went to the back garden and found him trying to escape through the top window. Very quickly, PD Bonnie and I were able to safely detain and arrest the man.
What makes you want to come to work each day?
One of the best parts of being a police officer is the people you work with. Teamwork is a vital part of being a successful police officer. I love coming into work not knowing what the day will bring. You could be helping a victim of a domestic incident or chasing burglars, helping an elderly fraud victim, or trying to locate a stolen vehicle, speaking with a victim of mental health, or attending a disturbance outside of a busy nightclub. I come to work to help those who need it most and that rely on us. I’d like to think that I go out my way to build trust in the police.
What do you like doing out of work?
Outside of work I am a keen Watford FC fan and I play a lot of football. I play and manage the Herts police football team along with playing both Saturday and Sunday football leagues. I also have to walk PD Bonnie and ensure she is exercised off-duty. I like to spend time with my family and friends and catch up on Tipping Point and The Chase.
Of course, it’s not just police officers we’re after – there’s a whole range of police staff jobs needed to keep our constabulary running smoothly, everything from finance to emergency call handlers, IT experts to crime analysts.