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Closing Ranks - My Life as a Cop. One man's account of faith on the force

Closing Ranks - My Life as a Cop. One man's account of faith on the force

After seriously questioning whether he wanted to join the police force at all, Leroy Logan discovered a calling to address and counter a state of institutional racism within the Metropolitan Police. This well-written autobiography, co-written with author George Luke, details this mountainous journey during his 30-year career as well as his role in guiding and mentoring young people in order to reduce knife crime and gang violence.

The book starts by offering a relatively thorough background covering Leroy’s parents, Jamaican heritage, schooling. The reader gains a broad picture of how his mind and personality were moulded and shaped.

I found it interesting when Logan mentions friends he had from various African countries while he was at school, ‘they’d tell me what life in their countries was like. I could see the parallels with the years I’d spent in Jamaica; how I’d been able to see black people in positions there that I didn’t in England.’ And it was fascinating to be transported back to when black and ethnic minorities were much closer to the start of their journey of integrating into white-British society; ‘The few years we’d spent in Jamaica helped me develop a can-do attitude and to see that I could be anything I wanted to be. I saw black politicians, black police officers and black doctors in Jamaica… My black classmates who were born in the UK but had never been to any other developing country just couldn’t fathom it.’

Leroy and his family had been victims of racism from the police even before he joined the force, and even right at the beginning of his career, during his training, he witnessed and was on the receiving end of institutional racism, and felt empowered to move against it. He became one of the founding members of the Black Police Association (an interest group of the black and minority ethnic staff of the UK police forces which seeks to improve their working environment, enhance racial harmony and the quality of service to all communities of the United Kingdom) and worked with colleagues and friends to see equality of respect and opportunities within the Met, as well as positive relationships between the police and the communities in which they worked, and sought true justice for cases involving black and ethnic minority people.

Of course, there was much opposition. This took many forms including slander, unwarranted public investigations, and even people in ethnic minority communities viewed him as a traitor for joining the organisation that often treated them unfairly. But one thing to love about Leroy in this book is that he doesn’t let what others think of him get in his way. As he states to one of his training instructors, ‘I wasn’t there to make friends; I was there to work effectively’. As battles are waged against him, he doesn’t panic but assesses the evidence of any allegations against him. He has a clear sense of equality and justice and does not let himself be steamrolled into believing things that aren’t true or doing things that are not right; ‘I made it abundantly clear in a composed manner that I would prefer to leave the Met Police, rather than stop my mission…I could see it in their faces; they thought I’d lost it.’ Readers will get a real sense of integrity and will feel inspired and confident to stand up for what they believe in.

It’s an interesting and fast-paced read, however I had trouble with the use of institutional terms, mainly relating to the different titles, organisations and departments within the Metropolitan Police. Although there is an appendix which puts the police ranks in order, for someone who knows little to nothing about how the organisation works, I found myself getting a little lost within the explanations of certain events. Though not enough to dampen my understanding as a whole.

Leroy’s career also becomes very centred around young people as he develops a passion for guiding and mentoring kids in gangs and young offenders with the goal of reducing knife and gun crime and gang violence. Through his role in the police he becomes heavily involved in various organisations working towards these goals, developing youth leadership programmes, speaking in schools and even orchestrating outreach events with Puerto Rican ex-gangster turned evangelist Nicky Cruz. And of course, drama ensues!

Logan was awarded an MBE for his contribution to policing in 2000, and actually his trials and accomplishments within the Met and beyond are amazing and certainly worthy of being immortalised in print. Closing Ranks is full of action and intrigue, with his family and his faith featuring throughout the journey. I found this book inspiring and educational and I think, particularly with certain current affairs, it is worth reading.

Book reviewed by Holly Bird

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