Daniela Pretelt-Harries is a brand new police officer. She started the Police Now Summer Academy three weeks ago. Here she tells us about the parts of the Summer Academy that have impacted her the most.
The Summer Academy has so far been an eye opening experience. I have been challenged in so many ways. I have had 11-hour days every day; done 8 hours of physical exercise for 5 days in a row, and worked my first shift on borough! It has been an amazing time so far; where I’ve learned so much and tried out so many new things. However; the best part of the academy has been the talks we’ve had from survivors.
The first talk I remember is the one by Hibo Wardere who gave us a talk about female genital mutilation (FGM). It’s a subject I’ve always been interested in since reading about it in year 9 at school. But nothing could have prepared me for Hibo Wardere, a survivor. She spoke with such honesty about her experiences, and challenged so many preconceptions about the people who practice FGM and the victims of it; that the room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop, and I have never felt such urgency to help people.
The second talk that really struck me was Paul Hannaford’s talk who had a similar effect as Hibo Wardere’s talk. The room was silent, and when he stopped I felt the same sense of urgency. However, the most important part for me was how much it challenged me and made me question my own attitudes. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been dismissive of stories and people who are addicts, who ruin their lives because of drugs; I’ve mostly seen it as a choice that people have and thought that it’s their problem. However, hearing Paul Hannaford tell his story made me realise that a lot of people haven’t made that choice. They have fallen victims to a highly addictive and destructive substance or substances at a point in their life when they were extremely vulnerable; they are people that need society to come to their aid, especially before they get involved in drugs. He is also living testimony that given the right opportunity people in a terrible situation due to drugs can turn their lives around. I hope to be able to prevent people getting involved, but I also hope to be able to give people that opportunity they need.
I look forward to hearing more from people like Hibo and Paul, to being challenged, being forced to question myself and feeling that same sense of urgency to help people over and over again!