“On Wednesday 15th January 1992, I was working as a manager in my local KFC. During a quiet period, I was reading the local paper when I saw an advert for the police. The advert simply said, ‘Could you make a difference?’. I read the advert and thought ‘Yes I can!’, so I applied. Twenty-nine years later as I head into my final year before retirement, I find myself reflecting on the question ‘have I made a difference’?
My journey in policing has not always been smooth running. I have remained a minority in policing for all of my twenty-nine years’ service and as I enter the final leg, I find myself still a minority and one of only thirty-four black female officers in West Midlands Police. Policing needs to reflect the community it serves and Police Now are a shining light in striving to recruit and promote diverse leaders in policing.
In 2001, I was working as Sergeant in Wolverhampton – this is where I met Roberta. Roberta was a beautiful multi-racial (black/white) young lady who kept getting into trouble. I felt connected to her and wanted to help support her. To start with, she was very distrustful of me, but eventually we developed an understanding. I have no doubt the fact that I was a black female was a key part in building this trust. I was moved to another area and just as I was about to leave the station, Roberta came in and handed me a letter, thanking me for all I had done to help her. I have kept this letter as a constant reminder of why I joined the police and the importance of visible role models.
Today as I look to leave policing, I still read this letter with a smile and enormous pride knowing that I have indeed made a difference to people’s lives, and have continually “challenged for change”, especially around representation. I want to remind all of my policing colleagues why you joined the police, and hope that other black females will be inspired to consider a career in policing too.
Policing is a privilege, and it has been a great privilege to be able to ‘find myself in the service of others’ – Mahatma Gandhi.”
Karen Geddes, Mission Support Superintendent and Chair of West Midlands Police Black and Asian Policing Association