Wanted by police - more Specials from synagogues

By Jessica Elgot, May 3, 2012
Lorraine Woolley with Rabbi Jonathan Romain and Bernard Hogan-Howe

Lorraine Woolley with Rabbi Jonathan Romain and Bernard Hogan-Howe

There was a strong police presence at the New West End Synagogue on Monday as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe launched a campaign to recruit a special constable from every London shul.

Posters featuring a police helmet and a kippah will go up in synagogues and Mr Hogan-Howe wants "to persuade people from the Jewish community that this can be a great career.

"You can go from being on the street to being the commissioner - and I should know. If you are good enough, then you are good enough to get to the top. It's not about who you know. You have the opportunity to have great influence."

The commissioner - who was joined by Jewish Police Association members - went on to emphasise his commitment to tackling any anti-Israel disruptions during London Olympics. "These athletes have been training for years and no one should jeopardise their Olympics. I have met the Israeli ambassador twice to discuss the specific security needs of the team and we will tailor the response to each team to make sure the athletes are kept safe."

‘We’ve recruited officers who have been in the CST’

Around 200 policemen and women are JPA members but it is thought that more Jewish officers are serving.

Chief Officer Lorraine Woolley is the first Jewish - and female - head of the Metropolitan Special Constabulary.

"I decided to volunteer when I was 16 after an elderly neighbour died after being attacked during a burglary," she said. "I had to wait a while to sign up but I've been in the Specials 42 years now. Of course, people are worried about their family members joining the police and being hurt, but it really is very unlikely."

Deputy JPA chair Michael Loebenberg hoped for "substantial recruitment. People might be concerned about a conflict of interest if they work with the CST, but they can come and speak to us about what opportunities there are and we can get around it. We've recruited a lot of Jewish officers who have previously been involved in the CST or Shomrim."

JPA chaplain Rabbi Jonathan Romain acknowledged that "traditionally, being a policeman was not seen as a job for a good Jewish boy, and especially not a girl.

"But I know that when it was first formed, the JPA was astonished at how many Jewish officers were already in the force. They have been underappreciated.

"Obviously there are issues for some observant Jews and keeping Shabbat. But for me there is such a close connection between Jewish values and a career in the police, the concept of morality and the law. I often feel I would like to have been a policeman were I not a rabbi. A policeman can make a dramatic difference between life and death."

Last updated: 6:40pm, May 3 2012