I am 37 years old, born and raised in East London. Father Egyptian, mother French. I joined Essex Police in April 2006 having obtained a Law degree in 2005. I worked in the West of the county (Loughton, Epping, Waltham Abbey) from 2006 – 2010 as a response officer and Neighbourhood Support Officer in Debden. I then qualified as an ARVO firearms officer in 2011 and worked at Stansted Airport from 2011-2015 and then the Force Support Unit from 2015 onwards. I am currently seconded to the Taser training team as an instructor. I am also a federation representative.
My biggest achievements in work to date was becoming a firearms officer, receiving a commendation from the Chief for saving a woman’s life and most recently passing my Sgt’s exam with an exceptional grading.
Outside of work, having two beautiful daughters with a son on the way, all aged under 4! I am also a qualified FA Football referee and normally referee Sunday football in Harlow.
On a personal note, suffering a full Achilles tendon rupture 3 years ago which ended my amateur football playing days, and being back up and running literally, completing the ARVO fitness test in just 5 months.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
My current role as a Taser instructor – I love sharing my experience and skills and seeing officers develop massively in just 4 days. The difference in danger awareness, threat and risk perception, and decisive action officers display from when they begin to when they finish is like night and day. I feel like a proud dad when I see how far they’ve come! Hopefully they take that on with them and remember their course for the rest of their policing careers. I still remember with great fondness my initial firearms course and all the skills I’ve learnt over the years has shaped me into the officer I am today. I like to think coming from my firearms background I have given officers an appreciation of the difficult and stressful job we have, having to make split second decision under intense pressure. The same applies to Taser. To this day I still have officers approach me about incidents I attended as a firearms officer or training events they have attended where I have been an instructor which they remember for the right reasons and tell me about something I did or said which stuck with them and helped influence them also. I take great pride and satisfaction in this and hope to continue throughout the next stage in my career looking at promotion aspirations and being someone who can lead by example in the right way.
Why is diversity and inclusion so important in and outside of the workplace?
Because otherwise life would be very boring if we all looked and sounded the same! I often forget my background - I'm black and Asian - and that shows that it is normal and accepted amongst everyone I work with. It shouldn’t be an issue where I come from or what colour I am, although I understand sometimes it can be a barrier to some people. I am a firm believer in if you want something bad enough and put the work in you will get what you want in the end. Everyone loves a trier, so even if you don’t get in the first time, keep trying and one day you will. People will always have their prejudices, a lot of that comes from upbringing and surroundings. That will slowly change over time.
Were there any barriers to joining Essex Police?
Only from where I grew up in East London. You have nothing to do with the police and grew up with a misguided impression of them and to not trust them. The MET police recognised this and had an ingenious idea at the time I was growing up in Bethnal Green designing a card game called ‘Cop Cards’. These were like the old Panini football stickers which you could collect in the late 80s/early 90s for those in my age bracket who remember these! You would have to collect a set and would then win a guided tour of Bethnal Green police station custody cells. Sounds like a rubbish prize but as a kid this was brilliant. I managed to stay out of trouble just about and made it out of the East End with some street sense and this has served me well in my policing career. The main barrier I originally had was my Dad. He would tell me stories of his encounters with the police, some not always positive, but to be fair he always had a respect for the police and has always encouraged and supported me in the job right from the beginning. I do understand the main barrier can be those closest to you, and it is hard doing something independent of what your family would wish for you as naturally you want to make them proud etc. but trust me deep down they will be. This is a job like no other.
Why do you think it’s so important that our force values difference?
Times have and are changing at a rapid pace. The world is a different place now, and if you don’t move with the times you will get stuck behind and find yourself in a lonely place. With social media now and public opinion based on what people see and hear in the news, this has caused massive changes not just in policing but in general governance of our country. As much as it is important to value differences it is still just as important to not lose sight of what we do. Crime is still crime at the end of the day, and our role is help people, save life and limb, and enforce the law without fear or favour. We still have a long way to go but it is changing for the better.
How has Essex Police as an organisation supported you in your career?
Essex has always been a good force to work for. I like the fact it is a small force, and I can go to any police station in the county and bump into someone I know, and they will always offer me a coffee and a biscuit! I have been given the opportunity and privilege of being a firearms officer. I have always been able to knock on a governor’s door and sit down for advice and not been turned away. Being part of the federation as a rep has also allowed me to develop with misconduct and health and safety training. Most recently being a Taser instructor and being put on an AET course to allow me to effectively deliver training.
Tell us something interesting about your role?
My role as a firearms officer has allowed me to train alongside the SAS which was a great experience. I’ve also got a picture of me stood in front of Air Force 1, and a packet of Presidential M&M’s from Barrack Obama’s visit to the UK when I used to work at Stansted Airport.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining Essex Police?
Who cares what you look like or what religion, gender or sexuality you are, don’t let that be a barrier to applying for anything in life.
I have loved my time in the job. There have been up’s and down’s, but 15 years have flown by. I don’t wish my time away. There are so many jobs within the job, you won’t get that anywhere else. Sure, you could get paid more elsewhere but the variety in the job and not knowing what comes next, especially being front line response, is a real buzz. If you can manage it, go for firearms as well.