COP Project: Horses, Dogs and Divers

So the COP project is a partner lead project, run through discovery, which sees student volunteers working locally with South Wales Police and Swansea Metropolitan students. The majority of work we do is giving crime prevention advice to the local community, working with the police and Police community support officers on operations such as OPHAND, which has in fact reduced the number of burglaries by 44%, and WHERESYOURMATE, an operation which aims to encourage students to stay together on nights out. The Help Point on Wind Street is also manned by student volunteers as well as police officers and paramedics and provides relief to many students and locals alike between the hours of 10pm-4am every Wednesday and Saturday night.

Recently three of us volunteers had the opportunity to visit the police dog handlers, mountain team and the firearms unit in Bridgend.

Firstly we went to visit the underwater search unit. Chief guy explained to us the difficult task that these specially trained officers had in the recovery of evidence in sometimes treacherous conditions. He explained to us some of the training equipment they used as well as giving us a
run down of what kind of conditions these guys must work in, which was so interesting.

We then went on to see the mountain team. These officers, train and work with 9 different horses, each of which have names, personalities and are clearly loved by the officers, which was so nice to see. The Horses are involved in routine police work but also cover big events with crowds such as football and rugby matches, celebrations etc. The horses are brought at a young age and are trained by the officers for around 1 year before they are used in day to day police work. They even have holidays once in while, lucky horses. Again, this was so interesting to see the work that these people do. It is clear they enjoy their job, they love working with the horses who also enjoy working with them. When you think about the police force, you generally think about being on patrol and the every-day jobs that you tend to see, when this really isn’t the case and its fascinating to find out what these people do day to day working life.

The dog unit, noisy loads of barking but also so cute. We were given the low down on how they train these dogs to perform different roles within the police force, some were sniffer dogs searching for drugs others cadaver dogs. These dogs are trained by their handlers and live at home with them. Chief guy explained to us how the dogs are trained to search for these specific things, how they signal when they’ve found this object and how they are rewarded. The dogs working days basically involve them playing. Its adorable.

Finally, we were shown around the firearms unit. We were shown the training aids they used (some of which we couldn’t even lift off the ground!!) The training rooms, which allow the officers the chance to practice in a room which can be adapted to different scenarios and were told the process in which people specialise in this area.

This day opened my eyes to the various roles within the police force and I enjoyed it immensely, everyone we talked to was lovely and they gave us so much to walk away with. We were given the chance to see and hear things that others will never see, let alone think about and the day was invaluable.

Discovery is such an amazing charity. It gives you so many opportunities to learn and grow as a person, to meet people, to help others and enjoy your time at Swansea University. The work they do through various projects does better the community and every volunteer loves doing it.

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Interested in having your own experience like this? The COP Project is currently recruiting first year students to join its ranks and support welfare provision and crime reduction operations in student residential areas. 

For more information, get in touch on copproject@discoverysvs.org