Pioneering Black Cop
Jun 28 2002
By Vicky Wilks, South London Press
WHEN David Michael joined the Met in 1972, he was the
first black cop to be posted to Lewisham.
He told the South London Press: "I didn't have a
hard time but the environment could be difficult - crude,
racist language went unchallenged."
At the time, the community and the local authority had
posted a motion of no confidence in the police.
The situation worsened when the force launched an operation
to crack down on street robbery and pickpocketing.
It became highly controversial because it targeted many
young black men. But it ended successfully with a string
of convictions at the Old Bailey.
Now a Detective Chief Inspector, David Michael went on
to found the Met's Black Police Association - a support
network for black staff.
He has twice acted as the BPA's chairman and is now an
During the 1970s he was commended twice by the Met Police
Commissioner for his work on a robbery case and a burglary
In 1993, he was honoured for work on a murder case and
in 1995 he received a medal for long service and good
But his commendations were followed by a bitter battle
- he claimed that while working as a senior detective
he wasn't promoted because of his skin colour.
In November 1998, Scotland Yard agreed to an undisclosed
settlement for racial discrimination.
He has since gone on to support other victims of discrimination
in the force including Sergeant Gurpal Virdi who received
£90,000 compensation after he was wrongly accused
of sending racist hate mail to colleagues.
The DCI has also been one of the most outspoken supporters
of ousted Lambeth Borough Commander Brian Paddick and
has acted as an expert witness on police racism for the
Commission for Racial Equality.
During his time with the Met, DCI Michael has worked
in many roles - largely in inner city areas including
Lewisham and Southwark - including child protection, murders,
and investigating international and organised crime.
He is currently working in a role that sees him reviewing
internal fairness at work and is due to retire in December.
The dad-of-two is a member of community police consultative
groups in Lewisham and Lambeth.
Inspector Paul Dalley, who nominated David for an OUR
HEROES Inspirational Worker award, said: "Despite
being a victim of discriminatory treatment within the
police, David has harnessed his knowledge for the good
of the service and the local community.
"David selflessly promotes equal opportunities and
does so from a balanced position. "His advice has
saved thousands of pounds in court costs to the police
- money better spent on the community.
"He always seeks ways to help move the police forward
and promote understanding of the issues."