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Humans of WMP

These stories are just some of the talking points in a candid Humans of West Midlands Police project launched by the force that sees officers and staff open up on a range of issues both personal and professional.

Inspired by the hugely popular Humans of New York photoblog – which has more than 18-million Facebook likes – the campaign aims to capture the individual behind the West Midlands Police badge.

We will update this page with more stories over time. To read more about Humans of WMP search #HumansOfWMP.

Emad Choudhury

“People ask me, what’s it like being a Muslim and a police officer? I tell them they aren’t separate things. They are intertwined. They are one. I can show my best character by going above and beyond as an officer and it’s no different from me being an upstanding Muslim. The same principles apply to both.  

“I feel nowadays everyone has their own take on Islam. Terrible people have given the religion a bad name. I want to change these misconceptions and show that being a proper Muslim is all about the good character you hold and giving back to society. 

“Although only three months into my training, my proudest moment is joining WMP and knowing I’ve made my family proud. My father always championed the value of being a good human above everything else. If you can’t stop evil with your bare hands, stop it using your mouth, if that fails, at the very least condemn it with your heart – one of many teachings I used to share leading prayers as one of the Imams at a large Birmingham mosque. These words also shaped my reasons for wanting to join the police.
“In years to come when I reflect on my time in West Midlands Police I want to feel I made a real difference. I want to give back to this world from which we take so much - one day in a police leadership role. But above all I just want to protect those who need our help the most.” 

Andy Moon

“People often ask me why a pilot would choose to spend his days off patrolling the region’s roads.

 “I certainly don’t do it for financial reward, I do it because it’s rewarding. I get something out of it and I feel I am making a difference.
“I am a Special Constable, a part-time volunteer who has the same powers as a police officer including the power of arrest. We wear the same uniform as regular police officers and carry exactly the same kit. We just do it for free and in addition to our day job.
“I have the best of both worlds. I love my job as a pilot and I love being a special constable.
“My dad was a police officer for 33 years in Wolverhampton. As a kid I listened to his stories and wanted to be a police officer. 
“But he wanted me to pursue my aviation dream. I was in the Air Cadets from the age of 13. I was flying aeroplanes solo when I was 16 and had a pilot licence before I held a driving licence!

Sohail Shahzad

Firearms, faith and fasting - Meet Sohail Shahzad as he shares the reality he faces each day as a firearms officer for West Midlands Police.

“The ultimate sacrifice I could make as a firearms officer is coming face-to-face with a terrorist. I could die. I’m not scared. I believe my destiny’s written for me. If God’s planned for me to die protecting the public, so be it.

My religion is the most important part of my life, it helps me deal with the job. Fasting is not only a spiritual, but a physical and mental cleanse of the body. Don’t get me wrong it’s not easy, especially carrying equipment that weighs 3 stone. But I still go out and perform to my very best and will keep putting my life on the line to protect the public.

Being a firearms officer is tough. There is no room for error, and our every single action is intensely scrutinised and rightly so. There’s endless tests, training and fitness but I love the challenge. I’m one of only two Muslim firearms officers in the West Midlands which makes me especially proud of getting into firearms."

Lillie Abbott

“A couple of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) would visit my work place regularly, and after a few weeks I realised this was the job for me, I wanted to help people.


“In 2009 I joined West Midlands Police as a PCSO. I loved it, but then it happened, my mental health got worse, I’d managed to cope for a long time, I hadn’t had a flare up for years but something happened and it hit me with a vengeance. 

“I have been a victim of extreme domestic violence in the past. I felt that my experiences had helped me when dealing with fellow survivors of domestic abuse, as it allowed me to empathise, but one case I was dealing with deeply affected me. 

“It triggered nightmares and I found myself checking over my shoulder all the time again. I felt scared all the time; so low that living just didn’t feel an option. I was just going through the motions; I would regularly sit in the toilets at work crying, thinking is it worth carrying on?

“On one of my lowest days a colleague came to me and just hugged me, whilst other colleagues made me feel like I was worthless she made me realise it was ok to feel how I did and that I could get help and I could get through this. 

“I now work for the police and people think it’s a big rufty toughty service where we deal with difficult and harrowing situations. But no matter how you are viewed, that you are hardened to it, there are times when it is bound to affect you. 

“West Midlands Police now has support in place for everyone; the new B-Well programme offers independent support for colleagues. It’s a great service that highlights that no one should be ashamed of their mental ill health. 

“My advice to anyone who sees a friend or colleague suffering is to take time to talk. It’s simple, a conversation and a cuppa can truly make the world of difference to someone.”

The charity Samaritans is available 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. You do not need to be suicidal to call 116 123.

Louisa Rolfe - Deputy Chief Constable

"I joined the police in 1991, working at Avon and Somerset for 25 years before joining West Midlands Police two years ago as deputy chief constable.

While at Avon and Somerset I became the first female head of CID. I think, at the time, I was the first the UK. I was really lucky to have lots of support from senior officers but when I applied for the job I was told by a colleague I was ‘too girly’ to apply. Nothing makes me more determined when someone says you can't do that.

I think along the way there's been a few obstacles. In the early 90s women would work in the station office and men would go out on patrol at night. I challenged my sergeant, who said 'I would worry about you'.

I waited until he was on leave and convinced the acting sergeant to let me go out on patrol. I got in lots of trouble. After, I was allowed out on patrol at night. I’d come back with the most offenders because I felt like I really had to prove myself and do more.

I've found there were quite a few barriers for women in certain roles, I met officers who thought if they wanted a family they couldn’t apply for promotion. That staggered me. Thankfully this has changed but we can’t assume it’s all OK now.

Despite everything, having my children is my biggest achievement in life. I am so proud of them. The one thing you never get used to is how guilty you feel being a working mum.

I have always been really keen to demonstrate what I do. I worked flexibly when I had my children, who are 11 and 15 now. When they were very small I tried all different types of childcare and working hours.

I don’t want my children to feel they’re disadvantaged because Mum goes to work. You feel terrible guilt when your children say things like ‘Mummy, why don’t you pick me up from school like my friend’s mummy?’ But also my children get a lot out of me having a career, they see me as a role model.

It's something you get used to, the guilt feeling that you can't quite be super mum and do your job really well, but you learn to balance and compromise."

Dave Thompson - Chief Constable

“I am the son of a painter and decorator and a mum who combined bringing my brother and I up with part time jobs in cleaning and pubs. I went to comprehensive school and I am the first in my family to go to university. I am very proud of my background.

From a very young age I wanted to be a police officer. I always despised unfairness and wanted to protect the most vulnerable. One of the great things about policing is that it’s a career where people can rise to the top through talent and ability alone. I knew I would get a fair crack in policing as success is about what you bring and do not who you are.

When I became Chief Constable nearly two years ago it was a great opportunity to reset a few things and, having previously been the Deputy Chief Constable, I had been given a lot of time to think how I wanted the force to work.

I brought in a new vision – Preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need – because I wanted to embed prevention more solidly into the organisation. After all, if we can’t reduce the level of harm and demand, it will be difficult to deliver a high level of service.

Protecting the public is an important pledge to make in a world where child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, honour based abuse, terrorism and cybercrime infiltrate our communities.

Helping those in need is challenging at a time where the force is the smallest it has been in its history. But as we make hard choices, we must never stop seeing ourselves as part of the community we serve.

In today’s ‘fake news’ world it’s challenging to keep the trust of our communities. Our values are important in making sure we consistently operate in a fair and just way and keep the regard and respect of the public.

Humans of WMP

Humans of WMP

Humans of WMP

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