CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Devon’s Superintendent talks policing and making it in a male-dominated field

PUBLISHED: 11:17 29 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:17 29 May 2018

Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'

Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'

Matt Austin

In the latest in her series throughout 2018 profiling inspirational women, KATE HASKELL talks to Temporary Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya

When it comes to working in a man’s world there can be no bigger challenge than being a female police officer. Even in TV drama world there is Inspector Morse, Cracker, Foyle’s War and Columbo and not many of your Cagney & Laceys.

This month’s Inspirational Woman may only be one of just a few female Superintendents, but she is doing what she always wanted to do and that’s “make a difference”.

Sam De Reya started her police career jumping over fences in Gateshead, working for the Northumbria Police, chasing offenders with police helicopters hovering overhead.

However, falling in love with a soldier based in Devon meant that Sam found herself moving to set up home some 18 years ago but she has never looked back.

Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'

She explains: “I did initially think that life as police officer maybe a bit quieter away from city life. When I first joined I brought my ‘burglar kit’ into work that I had used a lot back home and my boss asked why on earth I had that as there are very few burglaries down here and if there are we know who they are!”

Despite first impressions there have certainly been times when being an officer in Devon has been challenging but Sam feels her early career has really helped: “I worked in customer service originally and a couple of times I had got the police application form but kept putting it off.

“However, when I was 23 years old I went for it and I’m glad I was that age as by then I had a bit of life experience.”

Without doubt the police force has traditionally been a very male-dominated environment; 21 years ago Sam was the only female in a team of 15 men. “There have been times when I have taken on a male persona to suit the role – especially when I was a Detective Inspector where I wore men’s-style suit.”

'Women are really good at defusing situations and communicating''Women are really good at defusing situations and communicating'

Thankfully, things are now very different and Sam has gone on to break the mould. She was the first female DI in Teignbridge and the first in East and Mid Devon and because of this Sam has found a real purpose in mentoring others to fulfill their potential.

“When I am mentoring I always talk about working the long hours and the feeling you have to replicate the people around you. But I’ve discovered that actually the most successful I’ve been is when I’ve been myself. You don’t have to sell your soul to be successful.”

Sam’s refreshing approach to “having it all” certainly hits home with many: “Lots of people say they like me as a mentor because I’ve made mistakes and I’m prepared to laugh at myself and own up to them.”

With two children and a husband who is now a Colonel in the Army and often away from home for long periods of time it can’t be easy also having an extremely responsible job? Sam’s answer is one that many working mums rely on and that’s her mum!

Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'

“She lives next door and is simply amazing at helping out but my husband is also so great at supporting me even if it has to be on the other end of the phone.

“Yes, it can be tricky at times when I have to work late, and some days tea can be a bit ropey, but I know my kids are really proud of what I do. My daughter has already joined the cadets in Exeter!”

Out on the street there are those that don’t like to be told what to do by a woman: “There have been a couple of times in my career where I have felt nervous of being a woman in my role and having to use a bit of force, but working with such supportive teams always helps.

“Actually, women are really good at defusing situations and communicating.”

Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'

Sam didn’t find coming back to work easy after having children and in the early days getting a promotion or landing a specialist role was a battle. But she feels that things are better now although there is always room for improvement and that’s where she comes in.

She leads support groups for women in the same rank as her and others working their way up the career ladder. She is also the head of a Standards and Anti-Corruption unit and leading the way for more support on LGBT issues.

There is one thing though that Sam firmly believes in and that is don’t complain about it, make a difference and that is what she is doing, for herself and many others.

Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'Chief Superintendent for Devon, Sam De Reya: 'Lots of people say they like me as a mentor is because I�ve made mistakes and I�m prepared to laugh at myself'

Who inspires Sam?

Without a doubt, my mum. Her values and outlook are one of the reasons I am a police officer.

She is so good at looking after others and a brilliant grandma but also a great sounding board.

I can come home emotionally and physically drained and she is there with a cup of tea and a listening ear, which means so much.

__________________

Follow Devon Life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Devon’s Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, also known as The Black Farmer, tells KATE WILLIAMS about his new book, Jeopardy, encouraging the embracing of risk to enrich life

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As five members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton celebrate 125 years of collective volunteering, we look back on their time with the organisation

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

CAROLYN SEAGER reveals how long after her mother’s death she discovered her amazing career in the service of her country

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An author known for her novels depicting life on the Channel Islands is nonetheless happiest writing from home here in Devon

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fig Tree Court is a development of 14 apartments in Tiverton for retired and semi- retired over-55s with gorgeous views over the Grand Western Canal

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Alex Green goes behind the scenes on the Dartington Hall Estate to find a community of artists, makers, farmers, and social entrepreneurs living out the legacy of its founders

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Many people know of award-winning Roly’s Fudge, but do they know how much hard work and business insight goes into making it?

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Topsham businessmen Steve Williams and Pete Woodham-Kay take an ethical stance on eating meat | Photos: Nick Hook

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

As llama love grips the nation, we meet a Dartmoor couple who have spent the last 11 years making them their livelihood | Words: Lydia Tewkesbury

Read more
Friday, August 24, 2018

Aimee Pagliari is the Teignmouth Life Coach and she can help you achieve your personal, career or business success through a variety of holistic methods

Read more
Friday, August 24, 2018

Although doulas are relatively unknown in the Western world, they have been supporting mothers around the world since biblical times. We’ve met Aimee Pagliari, the Teignmouth Doula, to find out more

Read more
Friday, August 24, 2018

Aimee Pagliari of Teignmouth Counselling has been working as a counsellor for 10 years and we’ve spoken to her to find out who can benefit from such therapy

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Gill Heavens salutes a long-standing North Devon club whose members love to explore the depths of our offshore waters

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cantering up the gently sloping, springy turf of a Dartmoor tor is a million miles away from the noise, pollution and hubbub of Sara Cox’s life in London – and that’s exactly why the 43-year-old radio and TV presenter keeps coming back to ride there.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search