Our latest #ProudOfOurPeople instalment focuses on Sgt Ord, who recently marked her 15-year milestone with the Force
She visited the beaches of Barbados and the Big Apple during her time as an air stewardess.
But home is certainly where the heart is for Sergeant Maria Ord, who now spends her days fighting crime on the same streets that she grew up on.
The passionate police officer, who recently reached her 15-year milestone with the Force, lives and breathes Sunderland.
It’s the city that raised her, that gave her the opportunity to travel the world and then ultimately enticed her back home.
Her route into policing may have been an unusual one, but for Sgt Ord, it was always a matter of when rather than if she would pull on the uniform and end up walking the beat.
“I always knew I was going to become a police officer,” the 39-year-old said. “But when I left school it wasn’t something I was quite ready for at that moment in my life – I felt too young.
“That’s why I became an air stewardess with British Airways initially and then Virgin Atlantic on their long-haul flights. I feel lucky to have visited some amazing places – from New York to South Africa.
“But I knew, deep down, that I was always going to come back to Sunderland and join the police. The way I saw it, being an air stewardess helped me learn and develop many things that are transferrable to policing – people skills, problem-solving and the ability to stay calm under pressure.
“The two jobs are worlds apart, but in some ways there are similarities and that’s an important message to anyone who wants to become a police officer.
“There’s no right way or wrong way to get into this profession – it’s a job where you can come from any walk of life. All you need is a can-do attitude, a passion to help people and a desire to make a difference.”
Now leading a team of PCs in Sunderland city centre, Sgt Ord has a diverse remit – from tackling business-related crime to protecting those enjoying a night out on the tiles.
Every month, she delivers bespoke vulnerability training to door staff, licensees and other city centre partners to educate them on how best to identify and safeguard people who may be vulnerable and therefore more likely to be a victim of crime.
She also meets regularly with partners at The Bridges, Sunderland BID and Sunderland City Council to lead a multi-agency, problem-solving approach responding to any flashpoints or tackling any city trends.
From tomorrow (Monday), she will launch Operation Justice 2, a fresh city centre operation aimed at tackling adult-related anti-social behaviour in Sunderland.
The initial crackdown, which ran last month, saw officers arrest 16 people on suspicion of city-centre related crime and disorder and make 28 dispersals in seven days.
“Working in the neighbourhood team is all about problem-solving, and by running operations like this, you can be a real driver for change and see real, tangible results,” said Sgt Ord.
“I’m Sunderland born and bred, so I take crimes that happen here personally – it’s my city, and that’s what makes the job all the more rewarding when you do make a positive difference.
“I love my job, and also love the people that I work with – from colleagues in the Force to the community that I speak to on a daily basis.
“Being a police officer throws up unique challenges and unique situations – but I have absolutely no regrets. It’s been everything that I’d hoped it would be.”
If you are inspired by Maria’s story and are interested in a career as a police office, you can find out more by visiting https://bit.ly/2p6lFge.