PC RONNIE Richardson retired from his position as community policing officer at Duns Police Station at the end of last year after three decades in the job, meaning that his replacement had a tough act to follow.
But although she has only served five and a half years with Lothian and Borders Police, having worked in the heart of Edinburgh, PC Suzanne Jacobs has all the credentials to be a fine successor.
Having studied music at university, a career with the police seems like a bit of a dramatic u-turn for Suzanne to take but speaking to ‘The Berwickshire’ during her first day on duty last week she said it was a long held ambition of hers.
“I’m originally from Islay on the west coast and I moved back there after finishing my degree but there was something about the police that drew me in,” she explained.
“The application and training process was quite long. After sending off my initial application I attended a 15 week residential course at Tulliallan and then after that was sent on loads of different courses.
“I’ve always had a strong interest in community policing, seeing it as a chance to make a difference.”
Ahead of taking up her position at Duns Police Station, Suzanne moved to Berwickshire in November having previously lived across the Borders in Selkirk and she said she was looking forward to getting a real feel for the region.
“I don’t want to start listing my aims or make any promises just now as I’ve just started but my main goal to begin with is to get to know all the different communities and the people within them.
“I still think there is a bit of a barrier between some people and the police.
“They may feel they can’t approach us or come to us with concerns but the role of a community police officer is to be a point of contact and to get to the heart of local issues.
“I want to be at community council meetings to find out what problems different towns and villages are facing. Each community will have its own specific issues.
“I also want to try and speak with teenagers as I think they are a key age group to engage with.
Suzanne knows that the issues which are a common thorn in Berwickshire’s side will be very different to the problems she tackled in Edinburgh but she’s confident her time in the capital will stand her in good stead.
“I spent my first two years with Response in Edinburgh before moving onto the Neighbourhood Action unit and latterly the Safer Neighbourhood Team.”
“I know that working in a place like Berwickshire which is blessed to have a low crime rate will prove a completely different experience to working in a big city but at the same there are issues such as anti-social behaviour, litter, dog fouling and under-age drinking which are apparent wherever you are.
“There aren’t any huge problems in the Berwickshire area at present and I hope to keep this as the norm through my patrols and visits to different communities and by engaging with people at events like community council meetings.”
Although not keen to heap praise on herself, Suzanne said she felt there were certain qualities a person needed to possess to be a successful community police officer.
“I think you’ve got to have an ability to be able to listen to people and be patient with them as well as having a certain degree of empathy.
“You’ve got to make time for people and deal with complaints and issues they raise.
“I’m sure Berwickshire has it’s fair share of characters and I look forward to meeting them all!
“I’ve heard a lot about Ronnie too and I’m hoping to meet up with him.
“I’ve got a lot to learn, particularly when it comes to local knowledge and I think he’ll be a big help as will Mandy (Paterson).
“My time as community policing so far has been really rewarding and I’m sure it’ll be the same here.
“Obviously it’s a whole new way of policing to get used to but I don’t think I’ve ever received as warm a welcome as I did when I walked in here today.”