A SOLIHULL police officer turned PCSO has been named the region’s Police Community Support Officer of the year.
PCSO Riccardo Gambino, who set up 13 Neighbourhood Watch schemes last year, was one of 14 selfless officers and community members honoured with a West Midlands Police Diamond Award at Birmingham Botanical Gardens last week.
“Being nominated felt very humbling,” said Ric, from Sheldon, who was almost killed in 2011 when a criminal tried to flee a petrol station without paying and pinned the officer under the car.
“To get PCSO of the Year, out of 700 or 800 PCSOs in the West Midlands, I was overjoyed. It’s nice to be recognised every now and then.”
Ric, who is also a minister, joined the force 11 years ago but found he could do more community work as a PCSO.
“I was a 999 driver. You’re responding to crime, going from one job to the next. As a PCSO, you’re the person that stays behind in the community. The friendly face they see all the time.
“They have had a lot of bad press which was wrong really. I think a vast amount of crime reduction is down to PCSOs. It’s like old-fashioned policing out on the beat.”
Ric wasn’t the only Solihull crime-fighter to be recognised at the awards ceremomy. Neighbourhood watch co-ordinator Felicity Simpson, aged 83, narrowly missed out on the ‘Community Thank You’ award for her 30 years spent running the Willow Road Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
“It was an honour to be nominated,” said the mother-of-two. “Being a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, I have met so many new friends.
“I’m told it isn’t a road which criminals target. Everyone looks out for each other, consequently it’s a very peaceful road.”