Danger has always been their companion

Every year, September 29 holds a special significance for police throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. And that has been the case for almost 30 years.

National Police Remembrance Day was held for the first time on September 29, 1989, following a police commissioners’ conference the previous year where it was decided a memorial day would be appropriate to recognise police officers killed in the line of duty.

Since the inception of the NSW Police Force in 1862, there have been 269 members of the NSW Police Force who have died in the line of duty, and through injury and illness.

At last week’s memorial service at Armidale’s Uniting Church, the names of those killed in the last year, and those who have been added to the role following a change in criteria were read out. Then another three names – officers who have been killed in the New England Local Area Command – were mentioned.

This year, among 15 historic names added to the wall, included six officers – Senior Constable Scott Andrew, Constable Morgan Hill, Sergeant Glenn Stirton, Sergeant Gabrielle McDonald, Sergeant Thomas Galvin, and Detective Sergeant Ashley Bryant – who died from suicide resulting from duties.

We commend the police force for recognising these officers.

Only recently, the University of New England held a seminar that examined the serious problem of post-traumatic stress disorder in our emergency services.

There are many in the community who hold little or no regard for the thin blue line the police force is between those who strive for a good honest lifestyle and those who have no regard for property or other people.

But fortunately, there are plenty in our community who do recognise the importance of the police force to the safety of our community.

Yet in serving our community, police officers often have to put themselves in dangerous situations.

“Danger has always been an officer’s companion and sometimes the oath to protect and serve has a tragic outcome,” was how NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller put it.

While recognition cannot bring back officers, or ease the loss felt by their families, it is important that we as a community honour them, their service, and their sacrifice.