"We can’t undo what happened yesterday but we can influence what happens tomorrow."
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Sergeant Mel Thomas was born in Leicester in 1968 to parents and grandparents who originate from Antigua, the Caribbean island known for its heat, food and beaches.
He joined Leicestershire Police aged 22 in 1991, at a time when things were very different within the force.
He remembers there being very few officers from afro Caribbean backgrounds at the Ryton-on-Dunsmore training centre - even though officers from forces all over the country were there to train.
Fortunately the landscape has changed over the last 30 years. Mel puts the marked improvements down to better education and awareness of all minority groups.
During his long and varied career, Mel’s roots have remained largely operational. He started off as a response and beat officer going on to be a firearms officer, physical training instructor, shift sergeant and beat manager.
He was in-fact the first afro Caribbean firearms officer within the force, and only the second non-white officer at that. Something he is immensely proud of and that demonstrates the path of progression.
Sport, and boxing in particular, is something very close to Mel’s heart. He has had the opportunity to represent the force at the World Police and Fire Games which had 46,000 spectators attending the opening ceremony.
Another sporting success story is the celebration that took place when Leicester City won the Premier League. Mel was asked to be the tactical advisor for the activity within the city including the open top bus procession, the event at Victoria Park and managing the safety of over 250,000 people – a landmark day in his career.
Mel recalls it was a day of mixed emotions as he was proud and enjoying the moment but was also working hard with a very serious job to do.
He was also the bronze commanders tactical advisor for the Download festival in 2012 when Slash from Guns n Roses played to a crowd of nearly 110,000 people.
A keen fundraiser, Mel has raised over £300,000 for charity during his time with Leicestershire Police, something that is very important to him.
Mel is part of the forces Black Policing Association (BPA) and has been heavily involved in organising the celebrations for Black History Month which runs throughout October.
He says: “We can’t undo what happened yesterday but we can influence what happens tomorrow. Put effort into trying to understand why, make changes and move forward.
“Yes, people have made assumptions about me, early on in my career a custody sergeant mistook me for the suspect when I took him into custody. That was very difficult but it’s not like that any more as we have made massive inroads and I am pleased to work for a force that looks very different to when I first joined with much more of a BAME representation. You should be able to walk into any organisation and spot yourself, and we can do that at Leicestershire Police.”