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17 Feb 2018

Men Stumble When Looking At Me During Parade – Police PRO Dolapo Badmos

Police Zonal Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmos, a Superintendent of Police, exudes charm with a cheerful personality. Her voice could sing a baby to sleep and at the same time readily puts fear into a criminal. She brings finesse into her police duties, and even at social functions, she remains the toast of many.
For a public relations officer, Dolapo, who studied Accounting in school, has not done badly. No wonder she was recently elevated from the Lagos command level to the zonal level. In this interview with PAUL UKPABIO and BIODUN ADEYEWA, she talks about her love life; why she almost dropped out of her police training course and how she missed death narrowly during a police shoot out with robbers.

Congratulations on your recent elevation. Can you enlighten us about your new designation?
I was the Police Public Relation Officer Lagos State, but I have been elevated to be the zonal PRO. That is, the jurisdiction covering Lagos and Ogun states. That is my present position. The police public relations office is at levels; we have the state command, the zonal command, and then The Force PRO.

That is a bigger assignment, how do you shuttle between the two states? 
Its a duty and it is do-able. Today I am in Lagos, tomorrow I will be in Ogun State. I have been juggling daily work between the two states. For me, it is not a burden because I have always had passion for police work. Presently I am on higher ground and I am enjoying it, even though it is a tough work. I still enjoy it because of the passion. I see my duties as responsibilities and not necessarily as a task or major challenge. I see it all as an added assignment and I have been having a good run, thanks to my AIG and my other bosses who have been supportive.

Which has the bigger challenge for you in terms of police work, is it Lagos or Ogun State? 
Well, as a PRO at the command level, you have much on your hand to battle with because, you have no one else to push it to. But when you get to the Zonal Police Command where I am, you take responsibility.

It is like being moved to the position of a manager in a large institution. You are at that point not just managing people, but also designating people to duties and responsibilities. So I create tasks, delegate people to handle them and get the results. It is a higher responsibility for me but with power of delegation. How do you combine your work with the home front? I am definitely not going to say that it is an easy task because, the home-front needs my attention and the office needs my attention too. But I think I have been lucky to have a supportive family. My children have come to understand that they see mommy when they see mummy.

And when they do not see mommy, it means they do not see mummy. What I have also been doing is that, the little time I have with the children, I use it to bond with them. I dedicate such times to them. And when it is time for work, there I go. It has been God who has taught me how to cope. You have this image of the police force being everything to you.

Where did you get such passion from? And as a child, did you foresee that one day you will be in the Police Force? 
Truly, with all modesty, I have seen a lot of young people, who said to me that I have made them to like and admire the Police Force. And they tell me that it makes them to take a second look at joining the police force or taking a shot at a career in the force. Yes, that has been a thing of joy to me because whatever you are doing, you should be a shining example. That will be the indication that you are doing it rightly.

If I should by my work and physical appearance convince people to the extent that they want to join the Police Force, then as a PRO, I am certainly on the right track. So to answer your question on whether I foresaw myself being a police officer before I joined the force, I can say that when I was growing up, my father used to tell me that what is worth doing, is worth doing well. I never planned to be a police officer. It happened by coincidence. My uncle that actually wanted to be a police officer, could not actualise that dream because he didn’t have the opportunity. So he urged me on or even forced me into joining the Police Force. Looking back now, do you have any regret about that decision? Looking back, I have no regret because while I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor.

Then I figured that I wanted to save lives. I have always had passion to save people or save lives. Also I recall that when I was in primary school, my mates used to come to call me whenever they were bullied or oppressed by same sex or the opposite sex, and I would champion their cause and ward off the oppressors. Indeed maybe in a way, God prepared me for this. So gradually I was doing it even without realising it.

What does being a police woman mean to you? 
Right now, I am looking inward. Policing is a profession. It is angelic because you could be sleeping late in the night and someone calls you that he or she is being attacked and you stand up, mobilise people to the scene. With that, lives are saved and properties recovered or protected. I don’t think anyone can just be called upon to do that. And again, I do not think that it is everyone that will stand up like that to go and rescue anyone. So I see police work as being angelic and I am grateful to God that I am doing such a job. It is an uncommon profession when you are a police officer. I am glad to be a police officer and if I return to this world again, I will still be proud to be a police officer.

Who has been your mentor? 
I will say that my mom has been my mentor. She has a strong character. She doesn’t give up on anything. She believes that with a strong, hard push, a mountain can shift. She brought us up that way.

That is why when I come across any challenge in my work as a police officer, I do not bulge or give up to the challenge. Secondly I get inspired by the life of Oprah Winfred. I like her strong character; she tells you to be focused no matter what you are going through, because the end justifies the means. These two people have really inspired me in life. I am grateful to God that they have been available for me.

What has been the turning point in your life and career? 
That would be when I was given the job of the police public relations officer. Before then, I was in operations and I was on the field. I used to think everybody knows the work of a police officer, and most of us felt the police was doing it well. But when I came on board to the office of the PRO, I discovered that not too many people love the police. I kept wondering why we were doing so much and people were not seeing our efforts. So I thought there was a problem that needed sorting out. That made me to think and look inward. So I keep trying my best, though my best may not be noticed now, but I keep trying believing that at the end of the day, it will show. To a large extent, some people do not like the police, but we will keep trying our best. We will go out of our way to make the police acceptable. A lot of people also do not know that there are a lot of challenges that do not allow the police to be readily loved.

Again other people have had preconceived notion about the police. Some see the police as an agent of oppression, and treat them as such. But I know and hope that all such impressions will change. We are trying our best in that regard so that the police and members of the public could remain good friends.

After joining the police force, was there a moment when you thought of giving up?
That moment was definitely when I was at the Police Academy. My first experience of grounding in the academy was horrible. As a fresh graduate, straight from the national youth service corps programme, I was faced by the need to get into the police force after being prompted to do so, by an uncle who said he didn’t have an opportunity to join. He was an uncle I cherished. He wanted me to serve the country. But when I got to the Police Academy, we met our instructors, and then I walked passed them. They were shocked. So they called me back asking where I thought I was going to.

I was equally shocked the way they asked me such a question as if I was not at liberty to do whatever I liked. Still shocked the way I was challenged, I told the instructors that if they wanted to talk to me, they ought to calm down and talk to me in a better way. They told me that they would not calm down here, that, that was a training ground. That was when the import of where I was, started dawning on me. I asked myself repeatedly if I was sure I wanted to stay there and continue or return home. The parade which took place everyday too was not encouraging; the blowing of the bugle that woke us up in the dark at 5am was very disturbing. In the morning, we were forced to run, and do all sorts of exercise. Then also we were taught to lift up our legs in a left and right manner; all that was overwhelming for me. All that really took some time to sink into my head. And you know what, I thought the one we encountered during the NYSC period was tedious. But when I got to the Police Academy, I realised that what we did at the NYSC Camp was a big joke. At the end of the day, that training toughened us, because we are not meant to be the usual regular persons when we go out on assignments on the road. We are trained tough so that we can weather tough moments on the job.

Also, we were trained to be civil so that no matter what condition we find ourselves, we could still remain civil. It was tough. And from there, we moved to the mobile police training, where we were woken in the morning with teargas and you stand up and start jogging. Everything with mobile police training is force. Even when we were to eat, we were told that we could only know when we start eating our meal, but do not know when we will stop, which meant that, you could just be taking your first two spoons of food, when the bugle is blown and you must drop your food and move. During that period, I wanted to give up thinking the job was not for me because I had figured myself to be a trained accountant who would work in a bank in an air-conditioned office, managing people’s accounts and ledgers. But all of a sudden, I found myself doing left and right on the parade ground with virtually no hairstyle at all. Yes, one really wanted to ask you, how the average young female police officer copes with fashion within the police force? Police work takes away fashion from the female. You need to put up a conscious effort before you can still be fashionable, that is because, police work is not about fashion, it is about being on the move.

Initially, I found that difficult to cope with and almost decided to leave. I actually parked my load and was ready to leave. But I was discovered; I was told that I cannot just leave. That if I must leave, I had to go back to the Police Academy and leave from there. That ofcourse was just as much as saying that it was impossible to leave! I told them that I can leave from anywhere and at any point. But I was grimly told that I could not leave. That was when I realised that there was no going back. That was also when I realised that I would still have to be there for another few months, taking my teargas steady. At that point, I decided that if i must continue taking the teargas and other training, then it was better I relaxed and enjoyed it. Somehow when I survived it for one week and didn’t die, I felt there was nothing again that could break me down. I had to carry on and completed the 18 months course. But funny enough, all those set of people that trained us, were the first set of people to salute us. So it was fulfilling. And that taught me a lesson, that no condition is permanent.

That if you pull through your challenges, your challenges will salute you at the end of the day. Still on fashion, it is assumed that people like you who wear uniforms at work do not have time for building fashionable wardrobes, do you really have regular clothes? 
Well if I must say, the best attire i can ever have as a police officer, is my police uniform. As a policewoman, the earlier one has that at the back of one’s mind, the better. My uniform remains my beset attire. If you invite me to a wedding or any other social function on a work day, I will be there in my uniform. I will not go home to change into any other thing. That is because, I can be there at your social function and duty calls. But outside police work, I am a jeans freak. Anytime, anywhere, my jeans enables me to be on the go. Except of course, I am lucky not to be on duty, and it is an event where one is reminded to wear our traditional attire. But I must tell you that I am more fashionable in my police uniform than in any other clothing. I have won my uniform long enough to keep me warm and comfortable.

What other memories of childhood do you have? 
I was fearful when I was growing up as a daddy’s girl. I was not a mommy’s girl because my mommy could beat! So I was a daddy’s girl. My dad taught me to be open and plain and not to play pranks. I didn’t play pranks because there were no opportunities for that.

How do you handle being beautiful? 
I have been handling that since I was young. I remember while growing up, my mom used to tell me that I am beautiful, that I have big eye balls. My mates then used to talk about my big eye balls and when I got home, I used to report them to my mom. Instead my mom used to look at me alarmed that I had the best thing in the whole world. My mom made me to grow up knowing that I am a beautiful woman. This is a joke, but during those early days while I was at the Police Academy and during our parades, the men among us used to miss their steps because they were usually looking at me (she laughs at the memory).

When the instructor said move to the right, some of them would move to the left. I don’t want to mention their names because they are likely to read this. But I still make jest of them from time to time when we are all together.

When men tell you that you are beautiful, how do you react, first as a police officer and then as a lady?
Some people just say it as a compliment and nothing attached. When I see such people, I figure it out because I can sense sincerity when I see it. ‘Oh thank you’, is always my answer. But when I sense that there is more to the simple compliment, I easily ward off the person. I don’t fight anyone for having interest in me. I manage the situation. Some of them I immediately start calling them my uncle which tells them exactly what they are to me. When I am not in a police uniform and someone is overdoing a compliment, sometimes I just scare them by asking, ‘Can you handle a police officer?’’ And the next question they usually ask me is, ‘Are you a police officer for real?’ And then I will reply, ‘Yes, I am.’ And then the change of discussion. But some will tell you they don’t mind.

‘It is you that I see, I am not seeing a police officer.’ Then I will say, ‘Sorry I am married,’ to put them away. Some men are stubborn, so the best thing is to cut off from them. And what can you say about your husband? He is a fantastic guy. He has told me that I should keep him away from my work. I met him after my graduation and national youth service programme. We have been married for several years now. Have you had any close-to-death experience so far in your career? Yes, I’ve had. I am a very inquisitive person. I always want to learn. When I was on attachment, I heard there was a robbery incident. My Divisional Police Officer (DPO) mobilised for the police to move to the scene. I said I wanted to be there with the DPO. The DPO said that I should remain at the station.

But I had already signed for a pistol. That was how I was part of the team. However, 200 metres away, we ran into a shoot out. I held unto my pistol as there was firing and cross-firing. It was no joke. It was a heavy exchange of fire. At a point, I had to summon courage to say my last prayers. I told God that if that situation led to my death, please forgive my sins, and if I am meeting you God at this point, just because of my national assignment, accept and forgive me into your kingdom. Meanwhile, the exchange of fire was raging on. I remember that we lost a policeman in that shoot-out. But our team was able to kill three of the armed robbers in Abuja then.

That was a near-death experience for me. I will not say that it scared me, but I would rather say that it made me to realise the thin line between life and death. That happened about 13 years ago.

Do you have any message for the young ladies who may presently consider joining the police force? 
I am happy to be a role model to many youths. I desire to continue to mentor some of them. One thing that I will always tell them is, get value for yourself. Success is not contagious. You cannot be successful just because you are attaching yourself. I urge young girls to pursue success by themselves. They should also try to add value to their lives. When you are successful, you can stand. All young ladies should know that success is not contagious. They have to work for success by themselves.

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