“It is one of the greatest honours of my life to stand here before you and speak about the incredible journey that we have been on and to take stock of what is still to come. This moment, here and now, is the culmination of over two years of exceptional hard work.
“Our cohort, more than any that has come before us, has seen some of the greatest modern challenges during our first steps into the service. A few months after most of us received word that we had secured a place on Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, the country was placed into a national lockdown. Fifty-five days before we began Police Now’s training academy, we heard the news that George Floyd had been murdered. For just under two months before we began our training, we watched almost daily the global protests, we listened to conversations about the pandemic and about the nature of policing, about the racism that still permeates society, and about what could possibly be done to fix such problems. And then we began our training.
“I remember wrestling with what I was hearing at the time. I remember thinking that I wanted to be the person who made the change, and I was relieved when I began Police Now’s programme to see that this was a sentiment shared by the officers I was learning with. We wanted to be the change. We collectively pushed forward and faced each challenge head-on, and together we were forged in fire.
“On a personal note, I also got married to my beautiful wife Michelle not long after our training began, and shortly after that we learned that we would be having a baby – our son, Clark. Safe to say, it has been a very busy two years, and all completely worth it!
“I chose to become a neighbourhood police officer via Police Now because I saw it as an opportunity to make real, lasting change. I imagine a lot of us in the room also saw this pathway as a means to do some real good, support members of our community and help build public confidence in policing. As a neighbourhood police officer and nowa police constable on Bedfordshire Police’s Community Cohesion team, I spend my days building strong community relationships and attending events across our county’s religious and social establishments. We monitor tensions on an international level, proactively reach out to hurting communities to offer our support and services and find innovative ways to cut crime and anti-social behaviour.
“We do some phenomenal work as an organisation. I am proud to work for this organisation. Everyone graduating in this room has been involved with saving lives. Everyone graduating in this room has been involved with keeping people safe. Everyone graduating in this room has had someone reach out to them in a moment of crisis and they have been instrumental in stopping them from spiralling further.
“It’s remarkable to think back on the person I was when I started my training and I’m pleased that the enthusiasm and the excitement has not gone away. We stand shoulder to shoulder with experienced officers, we are relied upon by the public and by our senior officers to deliver exceptional policing and we have become people that others go to for advice and assistance.
“Police Now provided me with the opportunity to fulfil a dream, it allowed all of us to open the door and take our first steps down this path and provide us with life-changing experiences and, most importantly, to serve and protect the public to the best of our abilities.
“We have weathered the storm against incredible trials and we now have the potential to become the voices of modern policing. We have the opportunity to make long-lasting change, to climb the ladders and become managers, sergeants, and inspectors, and to sit at the decision-making tables. I challenge all in this room to not forget why we joined. Now is our chance to stand up and drive change.
“Congratulations to all of you. Thank you to Police Now for getting us this far, along with our sergeants, inspectors, and all of our mentors and tutors along the way – and of course, each other.