reblogged from the Epsom Guardian authored by By Hardeep Matharu 04.06.13
An architect-in-the-making who joined the police for its creativity and then fell love with it as a vocation is Epsom’s dynamic neighbourhood inspector.
Having graduated at the time of the building recession of the early 1990s, Insp Knight gained experience of the industry in Berlin, where he worked at the site of Checkpoint Charlie, near the Berlin Wall, and Hitler’s Bunker, but decided not to complete his training.
He said: “I wanted to be an architect from a very early age, I just couldn’t pronounce it. I wanted to be an artichoke when I was four.
“It was a tough call to leave it, but I was doing garage extensions and a few light industrial units to get experience. I enjoyed designing art galleries.”
The 42-year-old said he considered careers in the Army, navy and air force before deciding to become a bobby because he felt there were similarities to architecture in its “structured” career path and “creative working environment”.
He said: “Policing allows you to think differently about problem-solving.
“I wasn’t drawing or designing but there was a different sort of creativity.”
Having joined as a special constable in Thames Valley in 1993, he moved to Kent a year later, where he was the acting sergeant for five years.
He came to Surrey Police in 2000 and was appointed neighbourhood inspector for Epsom two years’ ago – a role which involves him leading a team of 46 local and neighbourhood officers who deal with lower-level criminality and anti-social behaviour, and work to make people feel safe.
Insp Knight, who lives in Sussex, said: “I fell in love with policing as we’re there for the public when they need us.
“It’s a lot of responsibility and you find yourself in very varied environments.
“The job is vocational – you have to be passionate about doing it.
“You get to see the extremes of life. It can change you, but I’ve found I haven’t become cynical over the years.”
But he said new recruits are now seeing the job less as a vocation or a career for life.
He added: “Society is changing, people think you can move around and try different things.
“Those people don’t necessarily have the dedication to developing the emotional intelligence required for the job.”
He said he believes the British police force is “still one of the best in the world” and wears his uniform with pride each day.
He added: “I saw the 7/7 bombings at King Cross on television and what struck me deeply was when everyone else was running away, the emergency services were running towards it.
“When significant things happen we bring back that sense of normality.”
Despite believing that policing is his calling, Insp Knight said that proposed police reforms are making him “take stock” of his future in the service, and, for the first time, he is “thinking about doing something else”.
He said “others are doing the same” after considering the possible consequences of the reforms which have been touted – including the compulsory severance of officers.
Insp Knight said he has seen “negative press surrounding the police zap the energy out of officers”.
He added: “If you’re highly motivated, the capability is there to go above and beyond the call of duty, and when you’re demoralised, it’s not.
“Some ‘police bashing’ has been justified, but some is very negative and makes you question the job you’re doing every day.”
He said he supported the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner’s decision to not set forces targets in his police and crime plan.
Insp Knight said: “Having zero targets does not mean having zero accountability.
“We should be aware of performance, but not be driven by performance.”
The extremely active inspector, who participated in a charity Harlem Shake in The Ashley Centre in March, said he wants to build a “two-way dialogue” between the community and the police, and has publicly promised that if he gets 1,000 followers on Twitter, he will run a half marathon “to give people reasons to get engaged”.
He has so far attracted 523 followers.
Follow Insp Knight at @InspCKnight.