A Challenge Worth Facing and an Academy Worth Establishing. for a Future Worth Having - PSNI POLICE ACADEMY BOSS JIM DRENNAN; CANADIAN MOUNTIE TELLS ULSTER COPS TO SHAPE UP FOR FUTURE
Byline: JILLY BEATTIE
JIM DRENNAN is quite a sight standing 6ft 3in in his black biking leathers and calf-length boots.
With his swept back hair, groomed moustache and ready smile, he looks calm and relaxed - a man deeply satisfied with life.
Yet he is besieged by problems - some he is happy to talk about, others he keeps fiercely close to his chest.
For the 56-year-old is the chief of the Northern Ireland's new police academy, a Canadian living away from home, separated from his family in a job fraught with seemingly impossible issues.
But in one sentence he sweeps aside any concerns about the role and says: "This is a challenge worth facing, an academy worth establishing for a future worth having."
The words are delivered with a gentleness that belies the determination it has taken for the one-time Canadian Mountie to work in the shadow of Ulster's history and the endless pain and loss suffered by thousands in the last 35 years.
Jim Drennan is no glory hunter, but an ordinary policeman who has worked through the ranks and come out on top.
And he is fully aware that he is walking a narrow line, one that could create social and political havoc if he slipped just a fraction.
He said: "This is a vast job, it's not just a matter of tweaking what was already in place because the sort of policing we are now talking about is very different. We are moving from a crime control model of policing to a community-based policing model, moving away from the garrison type stations to an open door policy because times and circumstances have changed.
"But it's tough because while we've to meet the criteria of the Patten Report, we have to remain fully aware that the threat from dissidents and paramilitaries still remains very real.
"So while we're training our officers to be public peace officers rather than garrisoned police officers, they also need the ability to swing right back to anti-terror work which sadly has been the necessary tradition here for the last 30 to 40 years.
"But what we're developing is a change of philosophy, a change of outlook and attitudes while building of trust on all sides.
"From day one, our officers learn that the public is their customer who they must serve using their knowledge and skills.
"And the rule is simple. Public confidence in the police is directly equal to police competence. If the level of police competence drops away, then so does the level of confidence in the police, and it happens very fast.
"On the other side, as police competence increases and develops, so does the public confidence, but that process is a slower thing altogether."
Sitting in his office at Garnerville Training College, Drennan has swapped his biking gear for a smart suit and shoes with a nuclear shine.
Appearance, he says, is important because it is a reflection of attitude.
He explains: "The way the officers carry themselves, present themselves and behave is all important.
"In college they are expected to be courteous and polite to everyone they meet, but not cowed by rank or authority.
"They are expected to say hello to everyone they meet in the corridors, hold doors for people no matter who they are and half the time they have no idea who they are facing on a day-to -day basis.
"They're bumping into all sorts of folk like secretarial staff, FBI chiefs, the public, and they need to treat everyone nicely.
"That is one of the most simple rules that can make the biggest difference.
"It costs nothing to be pleasant and it's a true reflection on the job as a whole.
"No one feels good if they see people slouching around the place, looking miserable and untidy, it's a bad reflection of who we are and it's not acceptable.
"Everyone has off days, days when they don't feel so great, but it's not an excuse. …