My first encounter as a police officer helped shape the officer I am today
'I joined the Met in November 2019 as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed probationer. It was the start of the pandemic and all everyone kept saying was 'this is the best time for you to join, you’ll be able to spend more time at each call and really learn how to do stuff'.'
I remember my first ever call as a response police officer. It was to a man who had called police and said that he didn’t want to live any more and was ready to take his own life. Every police officer will know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach on the way to your first ever call, praying nothing goes wrong.
It was only a few months earlier I was working as a marketing executive. Now I was in the back of a police car with two guys I’d just met, on my way to a call where someone was potentially having the worst day of their life. I remember being so nervous. I didn’t know what I was going to find on the other side of his front door or what I’d say to him when he answered. It felt like all my training disappeared from my head in that moment, so when he answered the door all I could do was talk to him.
As I was told, the pandemic gave me the luxury of time. We spoke for over an hour, just about stuff. Eventually, the ambulance arrived, and they took him off to hospital and off I went to the next job.
Truthfully, I never saw or thought about him again until about 10 months later. Whilst on patrol on Brixton Road, I heard somebody shout: 'Officer, Officer'! I turned around to the biggest grin as the man in front of me said: 'Don’t you remember me?'. He took his cap off and immediately I recognised the man I’d chatted to at my first ever call. He said: 'That day, I didn’t want to live any more. You spoke to me and gave me your time. That made me want to live again, I’m back now and better than ever'.
I was so shocked, it was only when I sat back in the car that I thought, that was really great. That’s why I joined. I joined so that I can help people in that situation...it was a real career highlight for me and a moment that helped shape me as an officer going forward.
It sounds really cliché, but joining the police is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. In my late teens and early twenties I’d kind of fallen out of love with the idea. However, as I grew up and as I became more politically and culturally aware after moving to London, it seemed like a job where I could really make a difference and do something that would give me a lot more purpose.
Integrating into London life made me more aware of disharmony between the police and the black community. I like to think of myself as a doer, so rather than sit and watch it happen, I wanted to join and actually be part of the change and the culture shift.
When my family found out I was successful in joining the Met, their response on the whole was positive. My parents in particular have been so supportive, albeit petrified!
My extended family are Jamaican and spending time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins led to some deep, rich conversations with family who all have slightly different views of the police.
When I go out and police, particularly in areas like Lambeth and Southwark, the tools I’ve got in my armoury from my family become so valuable. They become conversation starters and often they allow me to and put myself in the shoes of a lot of people we help and deal with.
Watching the documentary, I think that there are a lot of really good people trying to do a really good job and that isn’t widely the narrative. That’s the hardest part about the job.
I can cope with being punched in the face or spat at, because the people in those situation could be having the worst day of their life and may not mean what they do. However, when I see the backlash on a more national scale or in the media and through social media, that’s really hard to digest because I know that’s not me.
As police officers, we spend hours talking to people and helping them navigate their lives. We wear so many hats and in just one day can be a social worker, a parent, a friend and confidant. We’re constantly putting people back together and making sure that they get the help they need, whilst simultaneously fighting against enormous pressures. I think the documentary is a real opportunity for people to see that.
When you watch the documentary, I’d like people to take away that policing is dynamic and there is a massive human element. You’ll see how the friendship between Wes and I blossom and he always had my back. Our styles are very different, but that means that we worked so well together.
Working with Wes was an honour and a career highlight. He’s a fabulous officer with years of experience and he can get through to people and relate to them in a way that I never could and vice versa. I learned so much from working with him that I will use throughout my career.'