Confession: I'm A Cop Who Dated A Gangbanger As A Teen (Yes, Really)

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Oh, the IRONY.

This may be one of most parents' biggest nightmare.

I've been a police officer in London for ten years, so I know a lot about criminals. However, my introduction to criminality happened at the then naïve young age of 18 when I was dating one.

As an 18-year-old, I was a strong, determined and committed young person. I was outspoken, popular and a maverick of sorts — I would have been the last person you would have thought of as naïve, but I WAS when it came to boyfriends.

The boy I fell in love with was, for lack of a better phrase, from the wrong side of town. He would get up and leave me at 2 AM and bring me back all kinds of "presents". He always had money, despite not having a job, and I was often left holding his coat while he went off to "chat" with rival gangs.

I know looking at it now that it seems so obvious that this wasn't the brightest idea, but it never crossed my mind at 18. It wasn't until a police officer turned up at my house to search for stolen goods that I realized something was wrong. And when they took away perfume and jewelry stolen in a burglary, I REALLY began to understand what was happening.

My wonderful boyfriend was arrested for several counts of burglary and fraud, which explained where all the money came from. I was DEVASTATED. I always had a real sense of justice, and I was the last person who would've broken the law. Yet I had allowed myself to get into this position.

They say love is blind, and in my case, it really was.

As I look back at it now after working with many criminals since this boyfriend, I wonder whether there's anything someone could've told me at 18 that would've made me leave him sooner than I did?

The Facts

If someone would have told me what was happening before I found out, I think I would've left him earlier. Afterward, I asked my friends why they didn't tell me ... they assumed I knew. But I didn't. I loved him, and I always assumed the best of him (I later found out that, while I was holding his coat, he was putting someone in hospital).

The girlfriend is often the last to know what is really happening, as she is shielded from the real truth. She sees the boyfriend as she wants to and, without anyone telling her otherwise, she will continue to believe the facade he is showing her.

What COULD'VE Happened

It wasn't until the police arrived at my house that I realized I was doing anything wrong. Handling stolen goods is a crime, and they could've charged me with it. But luckily they didn't because I really did not suspect that they were stolen goods. If someone would've told me the trouble I could've been in, I probably would've run. Often people are so ignorant of the law; they assume if they committing the actual crime, they aren't doing anything wrong.

I Couldn't Change Him

I've seen a lot of partners of criminals in my time, and one thing they believe is that they can turn their bad boy good. In my experience, while not impossible, this is EXTREMELY difficult. For a criminal to change, they must first want to change, and they need support from someone who knows what they are doing. Criminals offend for all kinds of reasons, most of which are way too complicated for a partner to solve. Telling them that might just be the wakeup call they need!

I Believed In The Fairytale

Most partners of criminals believe the fairytale. (I did.) They believe that it is all going to end well and turn out for the best and in my experience, it doesn't. There is only one way this is going to go; someone will end up hurt, in jail or dead.

By Staying, I Approved His Behavior

By making it OK for him to be a criminal (and be with me), I was giving him no reason to change. So why would he? If I truly loved him, I should've given him a chance to change. And if he truly loved me, he surely wouldn't have put me in that position and changed. It wasn't love. I would've thought twice had someone told me.

Criminals aren't necessarily bad people, they just make bad choices. They can be the funniest most charming men to be around. Leaving one is never easy, but with lots of support, it's possible.

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For me it was about self respect. I respected myself too much to be a part of such violent and destructive behavior.