When Hurricane Irma crushed St Maarten five years ago, it sparked a chain of events that led to Jordaine McLaughlin realising his dream of becoming a police officer.
Jordaine and his fiancée were working at the same hotel chain when the Caribbean Island took a direct hit from the storm on September 6, 2017 and was left almost destroyed.
The natural disaster left them both out of work and the couple moved to Italy while they decided what to do next.
“We agreed we wanted to live in the UK, but didn’t know what area,” recalled Jordaine. “We threw a dart on a map and that’s how we ended up moving to Nottinghamshire.”
The pair soon landed jobs in the hospitality sector but again found themselves out of work a couple of years later when the coronavirus pandemic stuck.
Craving job security and a role that would enable him to help others, Jordaine successfully applied to join the ranks at Nottinghamshire Police.
Following an intense 18-week training course, he passed out as a police constable in December and he is already loving the role.
“I definitely feel I’ve found my calling,” said Jordaine, who was born in Jamaica and moved to the dual-nationality island of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten with his mother when he was aged four.
“When I lived in St Maarten, I always wanted to be a police officer. I did all of the exams to either be a police officer, prison guard or coastguard – the only problem was I didn’t speak Dutch, which was the language spoken on St Maarten.
“All the laws were written in Dutch so they didn’t accept me. Instead I ended up assisting my mom and sister at home before working into the hospitality sector.”
Now he is delivering a different type of service – policing the streets of Nottingham city centre as a Response officer, based out of Central Police Station, in Maid Marian Way.
The 33-year-old said it was a dream come true.
“When I saw the job advert I was determined to apply,” he said. “I think my motivation for joining the police comes from seeing people being mistreated. In St Maarten, I saw many good people being treated very badly. A lot of people would go to work but then their boss would not pay them. They would then get thrown out of their homes because they couldn’t pay the rent. They had worked hard but were cheated out of what they had – and there was no-one to do anything about it.
“Also, my entire home got robbed and nothing came of it. I was renting an apartment and went to the movies. When I got back, I found everything had gone including cash and my laptop. I reported it but nothing came of it.
“I do not like it when people are taken advantage of. I am someone who likes to help a person and that is why I’ve joined Nottinghamshire Police.”
Although he is only a month into his new role, Jordaine says he has experienced enough to already know he wants to stay in policing for many years.
“It’s been very good so far,” he said. “My first day was brilliant as I got to make two arrests! I arrested two individuals outside the Victoria Centre for a shop theft.
“Obviously some days are tougher than others. I have had to deal with people fighting in the street on a busy Friday and Saturday night and on my third day I had my first sudden death. I was really dreading that, but my tutor was so supportive, she prepared me for it and so I managed to stay calm.”
Given the nature of many 999 incidents, having the ability to remain calm is imperative for all police officers and it is an area Jordaine excels in.
“I’m a very calm person. A lot of people approach difficult situations the wrong way by flaring up. I always say just calm down, just relax a bit. Shouting doesn’t solve anything.
“I learnt this while working in hospitality. Guests would shout but by me not shouting back, the guests would quickly calm down.
“It’s also important to listen. When a person is shouting, they are essentially wanting to tell you something. Therefore you need to listen to them if ultimately your goal is to calm them down.”