Sergeant Mel Thomas is retiring after thirty years' service.
After thirty years’ service to Leicestershire Police, Sergeant Mel Thomas is hanging up his handcuffs today (Friday 26 March), however, he isn’t going far away.
Mel joined Leicestershire Police at the age of 22 in 1991. He was born in Leicester in 1968 to parents and grandparents who originated from Antigua. When he became a police officer there were very few officers from Afro Caribbean backgrounds in the police service. In fact Mel was the first Afro Caribbean firearms officer in Leicestershire and only the second non-white officer in the force.
Fortunately the landscape has changed considerably over the last 30 years and Mel will be returning to the force in May as a member of staff hoping to inspire the next generation of police officers.
Mel said; “I have had a wonderfully satisfying career having served in a number of specialist operational roles including the Tactical Support Group, Armed Response Vehicle and the Tactical Firearms Unit. For 26 years of my career I have been a trained Public Order Officer as well as a trainer and Tactical Advisor. My skills have taken me across the country supporting other forces at events such as the mass EDL marches and the 2012 Olympic Games.”
“I have had so many career highlights but there are two things that really stand out for me. The first is that I have been able to raise £350,000 for many different charities which I couldn’t have done without the support of the organisation. My role has meant I’ve been able to meet people like the boxer Anthony Joshua and footballers like Michael Owen and Jamie Redknapp and they have been willing to sign items that we’ve been able to auction for so many good causes over the years. Anthony Joshua even supported our Lives Not Knives crime prevention campaign.
“My second highlight was when Leicester City Football Club won the Premier League despite the odds being 5000 to 1. I was part of the policing operation that had to manage the safety of over 250,000 people who turned up to see the open top bus tour around the city. You just saw the joy that winning the league brought to the city and county. Everyone was a football fan that day. I was going on holiday the next day and I remember sitting at Gatwick Airport and seeing myself on the television. It was a great time to be part of the force.”
Sport, and boxing in particular, is something very close to Mel’s heart. He represented the force at the World Police and Fire Games which had 46,000 spectators attending the opening ceremony and now runs fitness training classes at force headquarters and in his own time.
But when one door closes another one opens. Mel is returning to the force in May as a Positive Action Officer, joining the recruitment team in the Inclusion and Diversity Unit.
“Originally I thought when I retired I would do something away from policing but an opportunity came up to come back and help recruit and inspire the next generation of police officers and I am really looking forward to it. I was never academically gifted but supervising and looking after people became my strength and I want to continue doing that to make sure the police service represents the communities it serves and I want to inspire more people like me to join the service.
“I will really miss supervising my team, they are a really great team, but I knew my time as a police officer was coming to an end and had come to accept it. Now I hope I can be a role model to others and inspire them to become a police officer and have the same brilliant career I have had.