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#HumansofWMP: Chief Superintendent David Sturman, WMP Commonwealth Games Programme

Published on | News

  • This week we are marking a year to go to the start of the Birmingham 2022 Commmonwealth Games
  • Chief Superintendent David Sturman is Head of our CW Games planning team
  • Here he reflects on his career and the career highlight of leading our Games operation

The Commonwealth Games will be a huge occasion and will hopefully lift the mood of the whole country. It will be the biggest operation the force has ever run and for West Midlands Police and the other forces involved it gives us an opportunity to showcase the very best of British policing.

After the last 18 months we’ve had it will be great to see the smiles on the faces of the crowds, athletes and the people all working to make sure everyone can enjoy the Games safely.

As the leader of the team I want the Games to leave a legacy. A legacy for the skills of our officers working as part of the policing operation. And a legacy for our communities.

For me it will be a very proud moment. This is likely to be my final role after what will be 35 years involvement in policing as I can retire next year. 

I joined WMP at the age of 25. My late Dad was a police officer. He joined in the 1950s as a Dudley Borough cadet and served as a PC/DC for over 30 years.

He was what we’d call a professional officer. He was never promoted but was happy in that rank and knowing the difference he was making. The job needs people like my Dad. I am incredibly proud of what he did and he is a large part of who I am and what I have achieved in my career.

I think it is for this reason I don’t see people or measure them by rank. People get hung up on rank. I’m still Dave Sturman. I’m still who I am, regardless of what I’m wearing on my shoulders.

Although my Dad never sought promotion himself I know he was proud of me reaching the rank of Ch Supt in 2011…although when I first joined the police I left a successful short career as British Army Officer and he was equally supportive of that.

I was commissioned into the Royal Military Police and spent five years largely overseas, a fantastic experience. I completed tours of duty in Germany including a deployment to the Gulf in 1990/91, and my last posting was in Northern Ireland in a counter-terrorist role. As an Army Captain the role was moving towards desk-based jobs, and at that time in my life that wasn’t for me.

I looked into the graduate entry scheme with WMP, and it was while at a recruitment event that I met my now wife. She wasn’t keen to follow me around the world with the Army having established her own career locally. So in 1992 I decided to join WMP.

Within a month I went from a 25-year-old in a senior role of Captain in charge of 250 people to being the new ‘Pro Con’ making tea for the shift. I got stuck in and earnt the respect of my unit. Three years later I failed my first attempt at the OSPRE Part 2 Sgts exam and in those days that meant I was removed from the graduate scheme. At the time I was a bit disillusioned and nearly left to return to the Army.

A senior officer persuaded me not to leave and I refocussed. I still remember what he told me. He was just one of the people who have had an influence on my career. I’ve always found the best leaders are genuinely authentic people – leadership is about being ‘you’.  Early in my career a mentor told me you are only as good as the team you build around you. So in my Commonwealth Games role, and all those I’ve had throughout my career, I see my job as a leader to create conditions where colleagues can thrive. 

I’ve been very fortunate to take opportunities to develop myself and enjoy a hugely varied and challenging array of roles over the years, in various ranks/roles in Response, local policing, Uniform Operations, leading change programmes and leading the Supts Association locally – this is a fantastic profession.  I have managed to keep close to Operations throughout my career in senior roles though my command cadre work in Firearms & Public Order/Public Safety – with numerous ‘swing the blue lamp’ memories created along the way!

Both my military and policing background have taught me to never expect anyone from my teams to do a job I would not be prepared to do myself.  As a 54 year old I recently completed the CWG Queen’s Baton Relay fitness test.  I got to level 10.4, which exceeded the 9.6 requirement and met the standard required for our Specialist Firearms Officers. As a leader I try to lead by example to demonstrate that if I can do it then there is nothing to stop others from having a go and achieving the very best that they can.

For over 27 years I had an 100% attendance record and I was determined to reach 30 years with no sickness. But last year my luck ran out following a routine operation on my hand and unforeseen complications left me seriously ill in hospital. It took me two months to recover, and was a real shock. I take health and well-being very seriously -you need to be fit and well and here to contribute.  As an organisation we are getting better at dealing with this but we can always do more to encourage health and well-being.

As I approach year 30 with WMP I’ve come a long way since my very first arrest in Wolverhampton of a man who tried to assault me after he took exception to being stopped for his car having no tax.  I’m continuing to enjoy a fantastic career in this fantastic organisation. When I eventually finish I would like people to remember me as a ‘good gaffer’, who gets things done and looks after his people. I’ve always tried the develop people and leave teams that I lead in a better place than where I found them.

Leading the WMP effort on the Commonwealth Games is a great challenge but is most certainly a career highlight.