16:49 November 2, 2021
PC Tia-Helena Brown joined the Met in 2017. The 26-year-old mother-of-one was first posted to the Roads and Transport Policing Command before taking on her current role in investigating sexual crimes in Camden and Islington. Here she shares her experience of being a black police officer.
“From an early age, my father worked in the local community and helped rehabilitate young offenders involved in knife crime, and I wanted to travel with him to public meetings where senior officers attended. I saw them discuss how they would tackle, among other things. I saw the importance of their roles and how they wanted to improve society and bridge the gap, but I did not see anyone who looked like me. I thought then that if I wanted to see a change, I would have to work hard to be the change I would like to see.
“Being a black officer and then adding to being a woman has not always been fun. I wanted black people from society to shout ‘traitor’ or other rude things at me. One thing that stood out was that mine colleagues would always be so surprised at how much hatred I would receive.When I signed up, I knew it would be hard, I might have underestimated that it came so much from my race, however, I wholeheartedly believe that I have chosen this career for the right reasons and I stick to this.
“Sometimes I’m mostly asked by colored people, ‘But officer, why this job?’ I would always say ‘Well, why not? How will things change if we are from the outside? Why not join, be in the space where the conversations take place, help encourage others and help change the culture ?!’
“I celebrate my difference because my color and heritage do not make me less appropriate, but I am proud that my color makes me different from the next.
“A highlight that will stay with me was a young man on the verge of an unstable situation who said ‘Officer, if you were not here to talk to me, this situation could have ended very differently. Thank you because you are you, I am proud of you. ‘
“A low point, but a turning point, was when a man tried to pull a screwdriver from his belt to stab me. After a foot chase, the suspect barricaded himself in a public toilet, after a fight on the floor and my colleague’s broadcast his PAVA spray, the man was arrested and taken into custody.
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“I remember turning around and seeing the screwdriver lying on the back of the toilet floor. My life flashed before my eyes, and when my team poured water over my face to cool the effect of the PAVA, they covered my tears. fear and anger.I was only a few months back from childbirth, my son was only 15 months old, I had everything to lose and still so much to do.This shook my confidence and I was shamelessly afraid to make stops and searches in case something similar happened again.This was a temporary feeling but I was ready for a new challenge.
“I recently joined Sapphire, a specialist unit that investigates sexual offenses. My friends ask me, ‘How can you do that every day?’ And I say I’m surrounded by a great team, supportive line managers, and I love what I do, and that’s because I help victims feel human again, I also volunteer with The Girls’ Network, a joint initiative with Met, mentoring a schoolgirl all year.I can say that it has been really rewarding and a pleasure to help the young woman strive for and achieve her goals and that is another way I can help others .
“Representation is so important because having someone similar to you that you are able to relate to, especially if they are in a leadership position, is empowering, and it promotes the belief that you are also capable. Dr. Alison Heydari – a great example of this as Britain’s most leading black female police officer – came into the position where I knew there was nothing I could not achieve.
“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 it is for one person or many in my community.”
Anyone interested in working for Met should visit met.police / careers.