Stepping out of the Corporate Comfort Zone with Shamilah Mehta
From being influenced by Penny Lancaster, to impressing her nieces and nephews with her police uniform, Shamilah Mehta was looking for an avenue to push herself – she found it by volunteering as a Special Constable.
Shamilah, why did you want to become a Special?
I felt I knew there was more inside me. My day job is as an IT project manager and I’m quite comfortable with my work responsibilities – but I also knew I could push myself, and that push wouldn’t come in my day job.
I came across a show called Famous and Fighting Crime, which featured Penny Lancaster and other celebrities working as Specials, and I realised being a Special is what could stretch me.
It’s a nice dynamic to have. I see things I don’t normally get to see – good or bad. I can’t just relax at 5pm because you know you’ve got something to do. It’s a professional job, even though we don’t get paid, and it brings different skills out of me that I don’t get to use in my day job.
What do your family and friends think about you volunteering in this role?
My parents are over the moon about it and want to tell everybody! When my nieces and nephews saw me in my police uniform their eyes were on stalks – they were very excited and were asking their parents to buy them their own uniforms!
My friends often go out on the weekend and I have to say “I’m sorry I’ve got a shift”. I know they’re having fun while I’m having to stand on a scene watch, or do some paperwork, but I think it’s a nice dimension to bring into the conversation when I am out with them.
Are there any skills that you have from outside of policing that you take into being a Special?
I think it’s the professionalism I bring from my day job. I know that expectations are put on me and that I’m trusted to deliver something; have I listened to instructions, have I professionally carried them out, have I been calm dealing with that action?
How did you find the training to be a Special?
That was a steep learning curve, very steep! I had just started a new contract and was blinded by IT science, and then you’re having to do the training, so there was this constant homework for my day job, and homework for policing. You’re just soaking in all this information, and you wouldn’t realise that when you see a police officer.
Understanding first aid, being in a situation or a hostile environment, and all the law that supports it – all these things are tough. I’ve been in situations in my civvy life where I’ve had to put my police head on, and I think that’s from the training.
Are there any jobs that particularly stick in your mind?
We were working on a roads policing operation and heard over the radio that a vehicle with cloned plates was spotted in the local area. We found it going the wrong way at 80mph in a 30mph zone and it hit a lamppost!
The two occupants ran in different directions, and one ran past us and tripped. He had his arms underneath his body and I managed to get them behind him while another PC put on the cuffs. With the adrenaline you think “where did that come from!?” Afterwards I had the biggest bruise on my forearm from the amount of effort.
Some jobs are really sad. We attended reports of a burglary at a home at 3am. We carried out a quick check and found it was an elderly person that lived alone and soon realised that they had some form of dementia. We searched around the house and then called up control to let them know everything was fine. You leave them hoping they’re going to be OK. It’s certainly stuff you wouldn’t get in your day job.
What would you say is the best part of being a Special?
It’s the exposure to something completely different outside of my day job. I deal with the nice corporate life very confidently, and I’m comfortable dealing with the not so nice side of life. It brings skills out of me that I never knew I had. Yes, it is helping the community – but I’m also learning so many skills that I can bring to any situation.
What might you say to somebody was thinking about buying to be special?
Do it if you feel you want something more. It does take a lot from you but you get a lot back!
I think when I’m super old I’m going to look back and think “I did that”. They’ll be really proud moments for me to look back on.
Challenge yourself and do it because you’ll see more of who you are than you think!
Could you volunteer your time to push yourself and make a difference in the community like Shamilah? Recruitment for the Special Constabulary is open now!