"I am proud to be not just a police officer but a Black, female police officer with intentions to leave a positive impact"
The latest of our series of blogs by Black officers from the Met is from PC Tia-Helena Brown, who joined in 2017. She was first posted first to the Roads and Transport Policing Command, before taking up her current role investigating sexual offences in Camden and Islington boroughs. She is aged 26 and a mum of one to a two-year-old boy, named Kairo.
“From an early age my Dad worked in the community helping to rehabilitate young offenders who were involved in knife crime and I would travel with him to public meetings that were attended by senior ranking officers. I observed them discussing how they were going to tackle youth violence amongst other matters. I saw the importance of their roles and how they wanted to better the community relationship and bridge the gap, but I didn’t see anyone that looked like me. I then believed that if I wanted to see a change, I would have to work hard to be that change that I wanted to see.
"Being a black officer, and then add being female, has not always been enjoyable. I would have black people from the community shout out ‘traitor' or other rude things to me. One thing that stood out was that my colleagues would always be so surprised about how much hate I would receive. When I signed up, I knew that it was going to be tough, I perhaps underestimated it coming so much from my own race; however I believe wholeheartedly that I have chosen this career for the right reasons and I stick by this.
"On occasions I have been asked mostly by people of colour, ‘But officer, why this job?’ I would always say ‘Well, why not? How will things change if we are on the outside? Why not join, be in the room where the conversations are happening, help encourage others and help change the culture?!’
I celebrate my difference because my colour and heritage does not make me any less adequate but I am proud that my colour makes me different to the next.
"A highlight that will stay with me, was a young man on the brink of a volatile situation saying ‘Officer, if you wasn't here to talk to me, this situation could have ended up very differently. Thank you for being you, I am proud of you.’
"A low point but a turning point, was when a man attempted to pull a screwdriver from his waist belt to stab me. After a foot chase, the suspect barricaded himself in a public toilet, after a struggle on the floor and my colleague deploying his PAVA spray, the man was arrested and taken to custody.
"I remember turning around and seeing the screwdriver laying behind on the toilet floor. My life flashed before my eyes, and as my team were pouring water over my face to cool down the effects of the PAVA they were covering up my tears of fear and anger. I was only a few months back from maternity leave, my son was only 15 months old, I had everything to lose and still so much to do. This shook my confidence and unashamedly I was scared to do stop and searches in case something similar happened again. This was a temporary feeling, however I was ready for a new challenge.
"I have recently joined Sapphire, a specialised unit that investigates sexual offences. My friends ask me how can you do that every day? And I say that I am surrounded with a great team, supportive line managers and I love what I do and that’s because I’m helping victims feel human again. I also volunteer with The Girls Network, a joint initiative with the Met, mentoring a schoolgirl throughout the year. I can say this has been truly rewarding and a pleasure to help the young woman aspire and reach her goals and is another way that I can help others.
"Representation is so important, because having someone who looks like you, that you’re able to relate to, especially if they’re in a senior position, is empowering and this encourages the belief that you’re able to achieve too. Seeing Commander Dr Alison Heydari, (a great example of this as the UK’s most senior black female police officer) come into post I knew that there was nothing that I couldn’t achieve.
"I’d encourage anyone to join the force particularly those from under represented communities, as you not only have an amazing career ahead of you filled with so many opportunities, but you are joining a family that’s out there every day saving lives and making a difference in London.
"I am proud to be not just a police officer but a Black, female police officer who has intentions to leave a positive impact, whether that is for one person or many in my community. Black history month every year gives an opportunity to create awareness and whenever there is this type of opportunity it means there is a possibility to create change.
"I am Proud to be Me, Be Proud to be You."
Find out how you can follow in Police Constable Brown’s footsteps at www.met.police/careers