LICENSED LIFE

Ali - "Maybe on a subconscious level I just wanted to play the hero"

“I like to slowly take everything in. I observe how people dress, listen to the pitch and tone of their voice. If they’re too loud, I’ll ask myself: are they a threat? Likewise, if a person walks past me in suspicion, looking erratic or on edge, I’ll ask again: are they going to be trouble?

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When I think of the risks we take, I’m instantly reminded of my daughter

These questions flit through my mind daily, and strangely, although I’m on my feet stationed at a specific spot or off patrolling an area, I may look like I’m doing very little. But in my mind, I’m practically doing somersaults. I guess you could argue that I have an active imagination, but the fact is, working in a job like this, you must play out every possibility. Better to visualise first than witness something materialise later.

I’ve worked the security game for ten years in total, starting out in retail, but four of my most recent years have been spent here at Kings Cross, patrolling Granary Square. I had another life before this one. Originally, I’m from

Lebanon and worked on the police force out there for fifteen years. As you can imagine there’s a lot of unrest in that part of the world and I feel fortunate to be here. I have a brother living here also, so setting up camp in the UK didn’t prove too difficult. I live with my wife and daughter and feel very blessed.

I can’t really say what led me to choose a profession like this. I suppose working as a policeman in Lebanon didn’t seem too far a departure from what I’m doing now. Although, you can’t draw comparisons between the two because the roles are so very different. I guess the dangers were far greater working in Lebanon and I was equipped with a side- arm, whereas here I have just my radio and pepper spray. That’s not say I can ever relax on the job. Many tourists frequent this area as well as city workers. The place is literally swarming with crowds, especially throughout the day, and with all the eye-catching architecture and surrounding markets, many would consider this a high-risk area for potential terrorists. I suppose that was the thing that drew me to a job like this, the demand for public safety. Maybe on a subconscious level I just wanted to play the hero, but I don’t entirely believe that to be true.

Danger is an inevitable part of the job, hero or not. In the many years I have worked in security there have been numerous risks to my life, and thankfully I’ve always managed to emerge unscathed. My most recent brush with near- death occurred right here at Granary Square not that long ago. With this being a busy stomping ground for city workers and tourists, it presents great opportunities for would-be thieves to work their magic. Unlucky for them, I don’t believe in magic. I remember a time where I caught someone directly in the act and made a run for him. I managed to rugby tackle him to the ground and while we tussled, my female colleague, who was stood nearby, happened to witness him reach into his pocket and attempt to pull out a knife. With lightening quick reactions, she was able to disarm him and probably saved my life in the process. We also recovered the stolen handbag and delivered it to its rightful owner. I’ll never forget the gratitude we received after.

When I think of the risks we take, I’m instantly reminded of my daughter. At a tender age of twelve she already has dreams of becoming a doctor and I fear the worst sometimes, imagining her fatherless and the impact that could have. It’s a scary thought, but then I’ll stumble across a child her own age, lost or in danger whilst patrolling and ask myself: what if she was mine?

 

 

Truth is, we’re all somebody’s son or somebody’s daughter and I believe everyone needs protecting.”

I’ll never forget the gratitude we received after.

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