‘I was a boy who wanted nothing so much as to join the police’

I was born in Liverpool in 1978, two months before my mum’s 42nd birthday. I was her 11th and last child – she had her own football team. Like all of my siblings, I was mixed race. My mother was white, with long brown hair and piercing blue eyes flecked with green. I was a brown-skinned, brown-eyed boy.

My love of the blue police uniform was evident very early on. I insisted that any toys bought for me for birthdays, Christmas and Easter were police-themed Lego. For my fifth birthday, my mum bought me my first bike, decorated in police stickers. I was elated. I was obsessed with the police force; I was a little boy who wanted nothing so much as to “protect and serve”.

Every spare moment I had as a child was spent at home, building my Lego police stations or watching American cop shows. My favourites were Cagney & LaceyTJ Hooker and Hill Street Blues. I named every Lego officer I had after characters from The Bill.

My brother had taught me the phonetic alphabet from A to Z, alpha to zulu (so I finally worked out what the British cop show Juliet Bravo was all about). With my newfound knowledge, I read the number plates of the cars I saw on my estate and pretended I was undercover, a secret one-man operation, keeping an eye on my neighbourhood.

To me, the police were the bastion of justice and equality. I desperately wanted to be one of them and couldn’t wait to grow up to fulfil my dream of working for the force.

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Published by The Guardian on 3 May 2020.