PC Upile Mtitimila is a neighbourhood officer for Cheshire Police and a member of the 2016 Police Now Cohort. Today he writes about his new policing ‘family’ and how the job has matched his expectations.
“this job is everything I wanted it to be and so much more”
When I first told my mum that I wanted to join the police service I must have been around 12 years old. Bearing in mind that at the time my dream career choices fluctuated between: police officer, United Federation of Planets (UFP) captain and a billionaire business owner by day, defender of Gotham by night, I think it’s fair to say that my family weren’t too surprised when I eventually dropped the other two career paths! I’m not going to lie, it’s still a sore topic that I won’t be wearing the UFP uniform any time soon (asides from fancy-dress parties) or be Bruce Wayne, but I’ve come close enough – I think!
Rarely do people get the opportunity to genuinely say that they’re “living the(ir) dream” but now that I’m here: wearing a uniform, a Batman-esque kit belt around my waist I can honestly say that I am – this job is everything I wanted it to be and so much more. I have a purpose and a community to watch-over, listen to and support. I’m not alone, of course! Behind and alongside me are some of the most incredible people; in and out of the service. I know that I’m lucky that my family was and is supportive of my career choice but that isn’t to say there weren’t questions and concerns.
“I’ve become part of a larger family”
Personally, one of my family’s main concerns was how I might handle “police culture”. I’ll admit that at first, I too had some concerns: would I fit in?; what would others think about my training?; what if I see or hear things that I’m uncomfortable with?; what if the dreams I’d had as a child, didn’t align with the reality? Honestly, these are all things I imagine I’d question all over again if I didn’t know what I know now, and that is that there isn’t really a “police culture” – so to speak. There is more of a “police family” – any uncertain or negative preconceptions I had were misconceptions. Since becoming a police officer I’ve become part of a larger family. My policing family has shown interest in the Police Now scheme; they’ve been receptive to what I have to say and supportive and positive about the program’s aims and what I personally want to achieve. I feel like part of the family and well prepared for anything, but it would be a lie to say I can handle it all alone.
“my friends and family are my anchors”
I can’t overstate the importance of my family and friends, outside of the service. It’s very easy to get lost in the immersive lifestyle of policing but it is oh so important to keep grounded and my friends and family are my anchors and I couldn’t do it without a support network like that around me! It’s dangerous to think you’re actually a superhero who can do it all without anyone else. All of the best superheroes – as we all know – need some help from time to time! Even Batman!
“the uniform turns you into Marmite”
Being a police officer is challenging; the uniform turns you into Marmite; some people love you, others hate you, or more specifically what the uniform represents. Every day is full of unknowns and risks; for me that was one of the attractions. Having had catch-ups with my mates who left uni and are now working in offices, a fair few of them say that they are already sick of the predictability and monotony of their days. Being a good friend, I of course do my best to look interested in their latest office ‘goss’ and stories – plural! – about how the fire-alarm went off and they got an extra half-hour break away from their screens and bottomless mugs of coffee; but I’m not jealous! Locking up a perpetrator of domestic abuse, going through the door of a well-known drug-dealer in the wee small hours or comforting someone in a time of crisis… That’s just some of the variety, for my day “in the office”!
“it’s an absolute privilege to serve”
Every situation can turn on a dime – and not always the way you’d expect. In the short time I’ve been a police officer I already feel as though I’ve witnessed a full spectrum of human existence: life, joy, happiness, anger, suffering, addiction, pain and death BUT with that I’ve seen ordinary people do extra-ordinary things. I’ve seen how much can be achieved when people come together to work with people, for people. It has been an incredible journey so far and I can safely say that becoming a police officer is the best decision I have ever made. I’ve made sacrifices as everyone does, but it’s an absolute privilege to serve and I wouldn’t have it any other way!