WMPeople: Sergeant Michelle Ugwueze

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During October we are celebrating Black History Month by sharing the career journeys of our colleagues from within West Midlands Police.

Today we talk to Sergeant Michelle Ugwueze. Michelle works in the custody block in Oldbury as a supervisor. She has the overall responsibility for the care and safety of anyone who is arrested and detained in custody.

Michelle joined the force sixteen years ago after studying for a degree in microbiology and has worked in various roles throughout her career. This has included responding to emergency incidents as a response officer, being a local policing neighbourhood officer, a schools officer and working as part of the Positive Action Team.

The day starts with… saying my prayers and a much needed cup of black coffee with no sugar. I drag my daughters out of bed for school. I then prepare for work. My typical day at work would start with a team briefing – I will be responsible for a wing of the custody block and I will have to complete my risk assessment for every detainee.

I’m responsible for… the day to day management of custody issues, carrying out risk assessments, ensuring suitable care plans are in place and also protecting detainees’ human rights, ensuring that any arrest and subsequent detention is lawful, with the ultimate intention of bringing him/her before a competent legal authority.

The department is… challenging but also rewarding. Since joining the department, I have had the opportunity to meet and care for some of the most demanding detainees, ensuring that they are kept safe whilst vulnerable, under arrest.

My previous roles… I worked with the Positive Action team, dealing closely with the recruitment team. I was involved in holding recruitment events in the communities, liaising with diverse community groups and leaders and explaining the benefits of having a diverse workforce. I held events in different communities, universities and colleges where I was privileged to meet members of the community who were interested in becoming part of WMP as officers, staff and volunteers. I was involved in mentoring them from application stage through to their probation.

My most memorable moment… would have to be seeing community members I mentored getting into the job and the beautiful feeling of pride seeing these officers in full uniform.

The worst part of the job is… having to cope with assaults on custody staff. We deal with some of the most volatile, violent and demanding members of society.

I joined the job… with two very young children. It was challenging starting a new job, working shifts and caring for the children alone as my husband worked abroad. I remember being told by an officer that I would not last in the job because of my circumstances. However I was determined to be the best officer I could be and most importantly be an example to many others who would come after me with similar challenges. I knew that all I had to do was to keep learning and doing the best that I could do. This paid off and with less than six years’ service I took my sergeant’s exam and passed it – after which I took on some rewarding leadership roles. I would say to every new officer or potential officer out there, do not allow fear of failure hold you back, have confidence in yourself and invest time in being the best you can be. Make self-development a priority. I have always and still do enjoy being a West Midlands police officer.

If I didn’t do this… I’d have been a microbiologist or a medical doctor.

Has Michelle’s story inspired you to consider following in her footsteps? Recruitment is now open for new police officers to join our family. As you can probably gather from Michelle’s story, being a police officer is more than just a job, it’s a rewarding and interesting career where you get to be part of a unique family. To find out more visit the PC recruitment pages of this site.