From Commando to Constable…
Former Royal Marine, Thomas ‘Mac’ McDermott, is now a firearms officer with the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary.
What’s your Military background?
I was a Lance Corporal in the Royal Marines Commandos. I joined in 2001 and I left at the beginning of 2010.
How was resettlement?
I think I decided on my second tour that it was time to leave. I’ve got no complaints. I was very well looked after by the Corps and the MOD.
Did you ever read Civvy Street Magazine?
Yes, I did. I remember reading through it. They were put out at the resettlement courses. I did a police officer and prison service resettlement course – which was a very good course.
Did that help to solidify your interests in the police?
I’d always wanted to be a police officer. I think it just helped me with the process of achieving that.
I also did a close protection course and hostile environment course. The CP (close protection) circuit is run by ex-Military, most of the people there are ex-Military and you need that Military background in tactics and weapons experience, or it’s just not going to work.
When you start contracting, it’s all cut and pasted from the Military and unless you have that experience and understanding, you can’t be part of it.
I went out to Iraq and Somalia and to West Africa. We were protecting oil and gas workers to start with and then foreign clients against piracy. We were protecting anything from container ships to supertankers.
If you do contracts in the UK, you don’t need to be ex-Military but I did all my resettlement in close protection and went straight to Iraq.
I’ve never really been one to sit in an office. I’ve always wanted to do something different. When I looked at the opportunities that were out there, I thought ‘I can’t do that’, or ‘That’s not me, I’ll regret that for the rest of my life’. Someone asked; ‘Do you want to fly out to Iraq and Somalia and do close protection?’ It turned out to be a very influential part of my life.
Why Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police, then?
My dad was a police officer for 44 years, and if there’s one thing you can’t get away from, it’s your genes.
I came back from Pakistan, and my dad’s mate, also a police officer, came round and had a chat and that kindled the fire, shall we say, and here we are, seven years later.
Did you have to do any kind of requalification?
When I was on the circuit, the MOD paid for me to go to university. I concentrated my thoughts and finances on my house and also on my education, because education is the one thing that people can’t take away from you.
What’s your current role?
I’m a police constable (PC). I’m an authorised firearms officer and I work with ARVs, or armed response vehicles.
When I left the Military, which is a very big, grown-up world, with stuff that you never thought you’d see or experience, it opens your eyes up to the way the world actually works.
Coming from that into this is so different but when I landed in firearms, because there’s a lot of ex-Military, it felt like home-from-home. It’s got that Military mindset and level of discipline.
What do Veterans bring to roles in the police?
Discipline, conflict management, decision-making, appearance, authority, getting the job done, and you can deal with complex, difficult and demanding situations.
It sounds like you operate in a very Military manner…
Yes. That’s why I’m in firearms. Hampshire & Isle of Wight Police is committed to offering careers to ex- Military personnel. We need the resilience and those qualities that ex-Military personnel bring…
What do you most appreciate about being in the police, versus what you had in the Military?
You get to go home at night, or morning; depending on what shift you’re working.
What’s your best advice for current Service-leavers?
My advice would be, bring everything with you, get stuck in and be yourself and enjoy your new and diverse career in policing.