Emad Choudhry works for West Midlands Police to deal with youth knife crime. The 29-year-old police officer uses his connections at Balsall Heath’s Bahu Trust mosque – where he regularly leads Friday prayers – to educate the youth on the devastating implications of gang violence.
“It’s something I’m really passionate about,” he says. “Too many children, including some from my home in Sparkbrook, are being killed and lives ruined through knife crime.
“I know these communities; I live here and I know how it works. I’m trying to use my access to people here to prevent more lost lives and heartache.”
Though both Emad Choudhry’s roles of being an imam and a police officer are starkly different from each other, his primary motivation is the same. Driven by his faith, the main goal of Emad’s existence has been to serve the people and give the youth around him a bright future.
“The values I was brought up with at the mosque mean that we’ve always been pushed to do something that was public serving or public facing. So there has always been that element of helping people that has been at the forefront of my mind”, he said.
“Joining the police was a seamless change. It was a role that still allowed me to be me and add a skill set rather than change into a completely different person. That was important as I am still a serving Imam. Policing was one of the few roles that served the same values to my faith and let me continue who I was and who I wanted to be while putting me in a position where I can influence people”, said Emad Choudhry.
Emad’s efforts have been recognized with the Emergency Services Award at the Birmingham Live Pride of Birmingham Awards, in partnership with TSB.
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“It was humbling to be recognized. For me, the work that the trophy relates to is a story in itself. It’s developed me as a person, and it’s also an achievement for the people that I work with and ultimately, it’s an achievement for the community too, said Emad.
Emad joined the force in 2018 and after working with the Edgbaston neighbourhood team and a response shift attending emergency calls, he was assigned to a role with the Project Guardian team – a specialist unit tasked with tackling knife crime and youth violence. In January he moved into an investigative role.
“Project Guardian was a cause close to my heart. I very much have a soft spot for young people and I feel they are a young nation that we are losing. So, it was a perfect way for me to do something active and reach out to a generation I was passionate about”, he said.
Remembering his childhood, Emad said that he grew up in inner city Birmingham, in Sparkbrook, one of the worst crime hotspots in the city.
“Young people are massively deprived in that area and lacking in good role models and opportunities. If you want to create good influences you need to become one yourself. I felt it was my moral and religious obligation to do something about it”.
To steer those who were at risk away from violence, Emad and a team ran a programme mentoring 20 young people called Empowering Futures in 2019 which included youngsters came from every walk of life, and not just the Muslim community.