Starting a new career after years of service in one discipline is never an easy task.
To start in one’s 50s is even more daunting, but that did not stop former Acting Station Sergeant Neville Reid from doing just that.
After 35 years of service to the Royal Barbados Police Force, the latter four of those as a police prosecutor, Reid took the decisive step to leave it all behind and “bat for the other side”.
He is now an attorney-at-law in the chambers of Andrew Pilgrim and Associates.
While it may have taken some of his colleagues by surprise, for Reid it was a natural progression.
You see, this former veteran serviceman had been setting benchmarks for himself from the time he entered law enforcement.
“When I joined the police force, I had intended to make it a lifelong career. But afterwards, I decided that if I was not promoted within the first 15 years I would have moved on.”
He got that promotion – from police constable to sergeant – in 12 years, at the age of 31.
During that time, he went on to pursue and secure a degree in Philosophy.
“I started back studying with the intention of improving myself to be better able to represent the Force. Philosophy makes you more of a critical thinker. You start to question everything. It was not my first choice but after I was accepted to only do Philosophy I fell in love with it. So I decided that I would complete the degree as opposed to making the switch to another discipline.”
It was the great philosopher Aristotle who said: “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.”
It’s no doubt that quality that led the former police prosecutor to keep setting goals for himself, despite having to compete with other like-minded and ambitious officers.
“Despite the challenges, you have to set targets for yourself. You have to know where you want to be and then you would manoeuvre to suit the situation. If it doesn’t work . . . another door may open and you take the opportunity.
“So I set another target that if I was not promoted again and off the streets by the time I reach age 50, that I would move on.”
Reid would act in various positions over the years but never secured that elusive promotion.
“After that, I decided that I would go back and do law to prepare myself to make my exit if I was not really where I wanted to be by age 50.
“I wanted to be off the streets . . . more in a management capacity in the organization. Just before I left, I was transferred to the control room and that entails working shift again so [I moved on].”
After four years at the police prosecutors’ desk in the magistrate’s court, Reid tendered his resignation and became a barrister, essentially defending those whom he had had previously gone up against while wearing the prosecutor’s hat for the State.
“As a prosecutor, it was more about seeing justice being done. Yes, you are working on behalf of the State, but you are to ensure that justice is being done. It’s about fairness. A prosecutor is not supposed to win a case at all costs . . . The main aim is to see that justice has been served.”
However, he believes his new role is not that much different from before.
“Yes, I am working from the other side but towards the same aim . . . making sure that justice is done. It’s a different approach but the same goal in mind.”
Despite the challenges facing the nation, Reid tells his fellow countrymen that they should set their goals and aim to fulfill them.
“Challenges might be the same or slightly different for each individual, but you have to know yourself, know what you want and be strong enough to stay the course and focus.
“Whatever you do, give of your best and the rewards will come eventually,” he added.