I am Rodney Williams. I’m 52 years young today and joined Northamptonshire Police in 1995. Both my parents hail from Jamaica. They came over to England in 1957 and lived in Camberwell London before moving to Northampton where I was born.
My mum was one of the first black women in Northampton to have her own business in the town owning a residential care home on Christchurch Road. I am immensely proud of my mum. She raised three children on her own, studied and grew a successful business. I think that determination has been instilled in me and I hope, is something which I have instilled in my children, both of whom are at University and who I am so so proud of.
I joined Northamptonshire Police in 1995 thinking I could change the world but the world, and in particular Northampton has changed me. I initially had to cope with derogatory comments from within my own community which hurt but my family stuck by me and one thing that this job shows you, is who your real friends are. My family were proud of me and I know my mum would’ve been if she were alive.
I have enjoyed my 25 years working with Northamptonshire Police and feel privileged to have met so many people from all walks of life. I have met the rich, the poor and people with addictions who have needed help, guidance and support. I would like to think I don’t judge those who are less fortunate as it could be me, my family or friends and would like to think I’ve been both fair and impartial.
I believe that being Northampton born has been beneficial as I often know mothers, fathers and grandparents of some of those that I have met over the years who often endorse me which has frequently helped in resolving issues.
I often get asked if the police are racist. A question that is easily answered. I’m not naive to think that racism doesn’t exist and that no one within the organisation is racist. The police are a cross representation of society and like any organisation in the world, contains both good and bad people. However, those bad apples who exhibit any form of racism are being kicked out of the force.
With widespread coverage across social media of the Black Lives Matter movement, it really highlights how people might be treated differently due to the colour of their skin.
Northamptonshire Police is progressive and receptive to change. Things have moved away from the dark days of the 80-90s when I was in London with my family and friends when things were a lot different.
Being a black officer has impacted on numerous situations, with people often prepared to talk to me as opposed to other officers present. I like to think that isn’t about the colour of my skin, but rather the way in which I choose to speak to people.
Working for the police has been enjoyable and rewarding and something that I don’t regret doing as I’ve seen the other side, what life can be like for some people. This, in itself can change who you are and test you resolve and restraint.
I enjoy the interaction, the discipline, the camaraderie, the diversity and the intensity of the role and the ever-changing landscape. No two days are the same. Over the years, I have made some good memories and lifelong friends along the way. Something I don’t think I would have experienced if I’d continued to work in London, when I first started working way back in 1989…….my God I am old!
The advice I would give to anyone joining the job would be to first sit down and speak to us old “bwoys” who still understand the street and communities and get a true idea about what’s involved, and we can advise you of the process. I have done this with numerous people over the years…we don’t bite!