If we want to make progress, if we want to represent our community, we have to be in there.
We have to be in a position where we can allow organisations to understand us.
My name is Sundeep Kaur Cheema. I am a custody sergeant for West Midlands Police.
I am a Sikh, and one of the fundamental principles is serving others. As a Sikh officer, I just feel that complements my role because those values and my morals and the morals that have been instilled within me over the years, through grandparents as well, but particularly faith is just a complementary feature to policing.
One of they key reasons why I wanted to join policing is because I hadn’t seen any other Asian officers. There’s nobody that I felt was representing our community. My cousin who is also a sergeant with West Mids, he was already a police officer, so I’d spoken to him and he inspired me to join.
As a custody sergeant, my main responsibility is looking after the welfare and needs of any detained person that comes into custody.
I’ve grown up within a store, so my parents are independent retailer. I’ve spent all my life, my childhood, within the business environment, serving the community. You know I know no different. So again, when it comes to policing this is quite a natural transition for me.
There was a reluctance from my parents. They did not want me to join policing. Mainly because they thought I was too short. Traditionally, it was going to go down the route of a very known career like medicine, or research or something similar. They wanted me to carry on studying within medicine, finish my degree. But also they understood the fact that I wanted to do something where I can still help others. And this is an ideal way of applying that. So within time, I think it was just: ‘let’s see how she gets on’. You know, 19 years later, they see what progress is being made and has been made.
I’m Sonia. I’ve been friends with Sundeep for over 20 years now.
When Sundeep told me she wanted to be a police officer, I conspired with her dad and we sat down and wrote a long list of reasons why she shouldn’t join the police force, together with another list of other career choices she could pursue. I’m so glad she didn’t listen to us because we are so proud of her.
Anybody that has any reservations about joining the police – you can be who you are, and do it with pride and not compromise yourself.
Organisations are open, our chiefs are open and they want to learn. You know, they want the organisations to be something where we are attracting people from all diverse backgrounds. But in order to attract them, we need to understand them. So the staff and the officers for example, that are within it are the ideal people to share.
When you’ve got a police service or an association that’s endorsing the work – the good work – that’s being done out there, you are lifting your community, aren’t you? You’re lifting yourself.
As a woman, knowing that I could potentially inspire the next generation of youngsters, or even adults as well, that want to join the career, that makes me feel satisfied.
So what I would say to someone that is thinking about joining is: ‘do it.’ Come and join us. Be part of that change. Help us. Lets help our community rise in the way that we can.