Supt Sam Smith
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am currently the Superintendent overseeing Specialist Operations, which includes things like the Drones team, our Marine Unit, Operational Support Group, and the Roads Policing team. Prior to this I was the Chief Inspector overseeing firearms and taser in Essex.
I have had a very varied career, having spent time as Basildon District Commander and also introducing the Resolution Centre as part of Contact Management.
I am also a trainer and spent time as the Leadership Inspector for Essex Police, overseeing the training of student officers in Essex.
I spent 18 years as a PC and then Sergeant before deciding to think about further promotion.
I have had such a variety of jobs, from being on a Local Policing Team, to being on the Force Support Unit as a firearms officer, working in close protection and also having a stint as an air observer.
I can honestly say that if I have wanted to try something within policing I have never experienced blockers.
I’ve had so many memorable moments within policing. These include representing British policing at the European Athletics event and winning Gold medal in the 100 metres. Another special moment was working on New Year’s Eve on the helicopter and seeing midnight and the celebrations from a bird’s eye perspective.
In my spare time, I love to travel, play netball for the Essex Police team and love to complete renovations.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The diversity of the role. Every day is different. The teams I work with are very motivated and keen police officers, and some of the incidents that require firearms or public order presence can be very challenging, but it’s hugely rewarding when everything goes according to plan.
Why is diversity and inclusion so important in and outside of the workplace?
I joined at a time when there were very few women in policing and, thankfully, this has improved vastly over the years.
I was part of a firearms team in the 90s where I was the only woman. I am so pleased to see more and more diverse officers joining policing, everyone brings a different skill, background or viewpoint. We need this within every area of policing to ensure we best represent communities across Essex.
Police officers are also a part of your local communities, and it is great to be able to share the work that we do and what we are trying to achieve with the public, even when we are off duty.
The more diverse we are the better we can engage across all communities and relate to what is important and impacting all of us.
Were there any barriers to joining Essex Police?
Back in the 90s, the barrier was that the job was very popular so there was a two-year waiting list! Despite working as a lone woman within firearms for many years, I always felt accepted as part of the team and valued for my skills.
Why do you think it’s so important that our force values difference?
Essex Police needs to be representative of the community we are here to serve and protect. We need to hear everyone’s voice and to develop and learn from each other. Valuing our differences gives us greater strength and ability to recognise and overcome the challenges we face across all communities.
How has Essex Police as an organisation supported you in your career?
I think the greatest support I have had is from a teamwork perspective, always feeling that the team around me care. There is mentoring support, with lots of officers wanting to give back. I’ve been helped with this and there are lots of support networks available within the force.
Tell us something interesting about your role?
I am the only woman who is qualified as an Advanced Tactical Commander in Essex.
Advanced Tactical Commanders are trained in leading both firearms and public order incidents and there is one of us on call 24/7. We deal with some of the more complex deployments in Essex and also across other force areas. It’s a really rewarding part of my job.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining Essex Police?
Do it! I have spent 28 years in a really rewarding career, feeling like I am making a difference. It is so clear that women and people from different backgrounds can add real value, everyone thinks differently and so brings a new and fresh perspective to the challenges we face. I have had sad times and seen some really heart-breaking things throughout my career, but I have also made a difference to peoples’ lives and supported them through some of their toughest moments – that in itself is reward enough.