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A SENIOR officer tasked with commanding the police operation for D-Day commemorations has told of his privilege - 25 years after he was a PC managing the car park at the same event.
Assistant chief constable Dave Hardcastle, who led police for two royal weddings and part of US president Donald Trump’s previous visit, was previously posted in Southsea on D-Day 50 attended by ex-president Bill Clinton.
Now 25 years on Mr Hardcastle, 49, has taken up the mantle as gold commander of the police operation - which has taken eight weeks to plan.
Security has been increased with police across Southsea Common and the seafront, vehicle barriers installed and 11 road closures are set to be in place from tomorrow.
Mounted officers on horseback, armed patrols, road units, automatic number plate recognition cameras and other hidden tactics have been deployed. Secret service officers from the US have already been sighted in the city.
Speaking to The News, Mr Hardcastle said: ‘To be involved in and to be able to support and help the veterans on the 75th anniversary, with veterans in their 90s, and support what they’re doing is great.
‘On a personal level it’s a huge privilege.’
It comes 25 years after he was placed in charge of the car park at D-Day 50 in Southsea. ‘I’ve gone from that to being gold (commander),’ he said, and added: ‘It’s been a long journey but that’s what we do.’
He added: ‘For me first and foremost the focus is on what my team can do to support the veterans, and every day that they can remember, commemorate, the sacrifices that they have made.’
Mr Hardcastle said the public had been receptive to extra security in place and understood why they were necessary. And he said his team would show ‘policing at its best’.
He said: ‘For many people this is a once-in-career opportunity – they understand the roles and sacrifices made 75 years ago.
‘To be part of that in some small way what I’m finding is huge pride that they’re part of this that they support the veterans.
‘It’s a privilege for every single person to be involved. This should be policing at its best – this is a significant event.’
The US president, the Queen, prime minister Theresa May and heads of state from across the globe will join the ceremony on Wednesday.
Protesters are staging a ‘respectful’ demonstration in Guildhall Square against Mr Trump - although it is not known if others will demonstrate near the ceremony honour the sacrifices service people made in the Normandy Landings.
Mr Hardcastle said: ‘We understand and we will look to facilitate peaceful protest.’