Detective Constable Jonathan Opaye-Tetteh, on Sussex Police’s Race Equality Network and the Frontline Leadership Programme
Friday 27 May 2022
Detective Constable Jonathan Opaye-Tetteh joined Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme in January this year.
Jon is also the General Secretary for Sussex Police’s Race Equality Network (REN), and recently helped organise the first face-to-face REN Member Conference since the pandemic began.
He tells us about his motivations for joining the Frontline Leadership Programme and Race Equality Network, and reflects on the recent REN Member Conference.
The Frontline Leadership Programme is a one-year development programme which prepares police officers with high leadership potential for promotion to leadership roles in policing, paying particular attention to the barriers often faced by officers from underrepresented groups and supporting officers who want to build trust and confidence in the police service.
Race Equality Network
“Since joining Sussex Police in 2020 (having served previously in The Met from 2015), I have been lucky enough to become the General Secretary of the force’s Race Equality Network (REN), assisting in growing our membership and supporting Sussex Police’s drive for racial equality and inclusion.
“The REN is a staff network open to all staff, officers and volunteers who have an interest in equality in the workplace and for those who identify with a particular race, colour and nationality (including citizenship), ethnicity or national origin.
“I joined the REN to further my knowledge and actively help support the force to be more inclusive. I was inspired by the excellent work that the force was already doing, for example with its ‘Let’s Talk about Race’ sessions and its Professional Action Learning Sets (PALS) – a bespoke personal development programme for ethnic minority and underrepresented staff.
“However, I was also motivated by my own self-reflection and the realisation that I could be doing more to support Sussex Police in being an anti-racist organisation – where colleagues and staff can celebrate their cultures, have safe spaces to learn and ultimately be an organisation which recruits and retains more ethnic minority staff, increasing public confidence in communities.
Frontline Leadership Programme
“This is why I decided to apply to Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme (FLP), a one-year development programme which prepares police officers for promotion to leadership roles in policing. I want to become a senior leader in policing to be a role model to others –‘How can we be, what we can’t see?’ I have the drive and motivation but in order to achieve my goals, I recognised I needed more support, more knowledge and a greater peer network.
“I was told about the programme by our Police Now SPOC in Sussex Police, Inspector Anthony Cheeseman, and the more I researched FLP the more I knew I had to apply; the programme has a specific focus on supporting underrepresented groups in policing, providing dedicated promotion support, increasing operational excellence through preventative problem solving and evidence-based policing, and inspiring the leaders of tomorrow.
“I gained a place on the programme and the experience has exceeded my expectations. I’ve learnt a great deal from each taught day, ranging from engaging discussions with my colleagues to fascinating insights from experts like Dr Liam Fenn on Policing Legitimacy.
“I have no doubt that the FLP will give us the tools to succeed and successfully lead in an ever-changing and complex environment. I highly recommend the programme to future, diverse and innovative leaders.”
The REN Member Conference
“One of the proudest things I have done since joining was to help organise The REN Member Conference, held on Wednesday at the University of Sussex. This was the first REN event held since COVID and provided staff an opportunity to network face to face and further their knowledge around racial inclusion. The theme was based upon anti-racism and encouraging all in attendance to step up and do more. Together we thrive.
“Attendees heard from our Chief Constable Jo Shiner and Deputy Chief Constable Julia Chapman who highlighted their ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our members also heard from our other senior ethnic minority officers – REN Chair T/ Chief Inspector Jay Mendis-Gunasekera and Superintendent Adam Hays (Race Equality Champion).
“Guest speakers in attendance were Andy George (President of the National Black Police Association) and the inspiring Gamal Turawa, who recently shared his story in the BAFTA winning film ‘The Black Cop’ and once again left everyone speechless.
“We also had an important input from our wellbeing team about the importance of looking after ourselves and recognising the signs of PTSD.
“The day was rounded off with an engaging panel discussion, which included members from our Race Advisory Group and senior leaders, where we touched upon the National Race Action Plan and what they believe the future looks like for policing and racial equality both internally and externally.
“It was great day and we left even more determined to keep the momentum going so that we’re not having the same conversations next year. There is still plenty more to be done however, the lack of diversity in policing is a national problem.
“I am excited about how Police Now’s network can help me collaborate with other future policing leaders and I would love to network further with other force staff networks and stakeholders in the country, to share best practice and further support our staff. Please do get in touch!”
Applications for Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme open on Monday 30th May and are open to all eligible officers from our partner forces, not just Police Now alumni, who are aiming to progress from constable to sergeant rank.
Book an information session to find out more or apply for the programme here.