#GMPeople: meet the detective fighting both serious crime and opponents in Jiu-Jitsu
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A senior officer who leads both the fight against organised crime in Salford and in his hobby in Jiu Jitsu explains how the sport has helped him both personally and in his role as an officer.
Detective Chief Inspector Rick Thompson, based in Salford, has over 30 medals spanning his 11-year hobby in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and trains on a daily basis alongside his role as a senior detective investigating and tackling organised crime across the City. In November 2021 Rick was awarded a black belt, one of only 11 awarded by his coach in his 14 years as a black belt.
Rick started his career at Cumbria Police back in 2002 before moving to GMP in 2007. Alongside his day-to-day of bringing down gangs and combatting serious crime - the 42-year-old is a coach, a father and has also competed in a range of competitions including the European Championships and has trained in Las Vegas.
"I was always into weight training but I felt like I wasn't as fit as I could be and lacked some purpose with it so I got into mixed martial arts in 2010 and found that I had a passion for the grappling side of it and stuck with it," said Rick.
"I use it as a form of mindfulness because you can only be in the present and not thinking about regret from the past or worry about the future when you're sparring. It's boosted my self-confidence, fitness and mental health and has benefitted me as a police officer because you have the ability to defend yourself and manage people."
He added: "It's like a hard reset, if you've had a tough day and had a lot of tough decisions to make, I'll go home and train and leave with a more clear head. We get regular challenges in Salford that are complicated and serious and therefore require a lot of thinking so training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu really helps to manage the stress.
"It's almost learning how to fail - failure is part of growth and in the police we can take heed of that. You can always improve."
Rick, from the Lake District and now living in Bolton, has worked in a variety of different roles during his career as a police officer - working in response, custody, neighbourhood, change, professional standards and now leads eight teams at Salford. He's currently one of the senior officers working on Salford's Operation Naseby - an on-going operation into disputes and organised crime across the City that has seen a 60% reduction in shootings since the operation launched two years ago.
He said: "I joined the police to help people and make a difference, I like knowing that you can be proud of things you've done in the job to keep people safe and make what is a crisis for someone into something that isn't further impacted by a poor service from the police.
"I've dealt with four child deaths in my time that were horrific to investigate - they were all immensely challenging but they put us in a unique position where we have to be the best version of ourselves so families of those affected are supported during such difficult times. It's things like that that when you go home that you think - that could be me or a member of my family.
"Being a police officer makes you a lot more grateful for everything you have in life and knowing you can help people is an honour. Nothing is worse than losing a loved one but we, the police can do our best to help reduce that impact for people."