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A Week in the life of Kasim Sumar

A Week in the life of Kasim Sumar

Issue 76 January 2011

A police officer for the West Midlands Police Force, Kasim Sumar relates how witnessing a shockingly violent crime propelled him to join the Force, and his adrenaline-rushing encounters since then.


I have the loudest and most annoying alarm clock in the world. It’s the only thing that can get me out of bed for my 5.15 am start to the day. My work-week is not really a week; it’s actually a ten-day cycle and can begin on any day. I work two early shifts, two late shifts, and two night shifts, after which I get four well-earned days to rest. And then cycle starts all over again.

 I am a response officer, which means when someone dials 999 and asks for the police, an officer in my role will be the first to respond. I’ve only been in the response unit for three of the five years I’ve been a police officer, and I never know what I’m going to be confronted with. I could be the first officer at a murder scene or realise that the 999 call I’m responding to is a hoax.

 I still remember the moment I decided I wanted to be a police officer. I’d had a tiring workout at the gym and was just leaving when I heard the screech of a car speeding off. I looked in the direction of the clamour and saw a woman flying off the bonnet of the car. I ran towards her. She was bleeding badly and her whole body was shaking. At first I thought it was a simple hit and run. I was wrong. A witness had seen one of the youths from the car grab the woman’s backpack as he tried to make his getaway. Unfortunately, she still had one arm inserted in the strap of her backpack and so was dragged along the road as the car drove off. I remember feeling a surge of anger and a strong desire to catch the offenders.

 I got my first real taste of how dangerous the job could be two weeks after finishing my initial training and joining the response team. My colleague and I were called to a flat where a neighbour had reported hearing ‘noise’ next door. We get dozens of these types of calls; usually the TV or music needs to be turned down. So I knocked on the door, not overly concerned. A tall man in his early 20s opened the door. He had his hood up and before I had a chance to speak, he pulled out a two-foot long machete from behind his back. Despite being caught off guard, my colleague yelled, “Drop your weapon, sir!” But instead of diffusing the situation, two other men grabbed my colleague and dragged him into the landing, leaving me alone with the first man and his machete. He raised the machete above his head, preparing to strike. My survival instincts took over and I grabbed his arms and wrestled with him. We struggled against each other momentarily before he managed to wriggle free and escape. I rushed to help my colleague but was pushed to the ground as his two attackers followed suit in making their getaway. We chased after them, but decided to go back to the flat - our first priority was to protect any potential victims. We returned to the flat to find an elderly man tied to a chair. Although he was badly beaten and hyperventilating, we managed to ensure he received treatment immediately. Experiences like these serve as a constant reminder why I decided to become a police officer in the first place.

 But not all of the work I do gives me an adrenaline rush. Some of it can be mind-numbingly dull. So, if a crime has been committed, it is the job of someone in my role to ensure that the area is cordoned off and kept secure until forensic examiners can attend to it. Some of the work I do may seem monotonous and unattractive, but is critical because of what it achieves. For example, if someone is brought into custody and deemed a suicide risk, they may require constant observation. And though this may not be the most exciting task to undertake, it can mean the difference between his life and death.

 When people ask me why I chose to become a police officer, despite the fact that there are so few Muslims in the Force, my answer is always the same: as a Muslim I believe that it is at the heart of our religion to help people. And as a police officer, I can do that every day.  

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