Bravery and courage on show at police awards
FROM tracking down an accused murderer on the run for seven years to rescuing those stranded in the recent floods, the bravery of police officers was marked at a special ceremony in Tweed Heads today.
The annual medals and awards ceremony of the Tweed Byron Local Area Command, saw more than 50 officers, plus several members of the community, acknowledged for their courage and service to the command.
The 30 years of service of the late Detective Chief Inspector Darren Steel, who passed away in March this year, was also acknowledged, with his widow Nicole and children Elli, 12, and Luke, 10, attending the ceremony.
Superintendent Wayne Starling, who clocks up 38 years in the force himself this year, paid tribute to the late officer, handing his medals over to the inspector's children.
"This year, we lost one of our own in Darren Steel," Supt Starling said.
"These are Darren's medals he achieved through 30 years of service with the police.
"He made a significant difference to many, many people's lives. So be very proud of your dad."
Later, Mrs Steel thanked Supt Starling and the Tweed command for the support and financial help they had given herself and her children through Policy Legacy.
"It's a very proud but very emotional time," Mrs Steel said.
"The police family has been amazing, a very good support. I just have to thank (Supt Starling) so much, he has been my angel since Darren passed away and his family has become very good friends of ours."
In other awards, Senior Constable Trent Elliot was given a Commissioners Unit Citation while Senior Constable Adam Curtis and Senior Constable Andrew Marks were given a Region Commendation - among the top awards in policing - for their participation in Strike Force Durkin.
The investigation led to the capture in March 2012 of Australia's most wanted man at the time, Malcolm Naden, who had been on the run for seven years, wanted for the brutal murder of two woman in Western NSW. He was later sentenced to life in prison.
Murwillumbah-based Snr Const Marks was also cited for his "exceptional police work" during the March floods, where despite working alone, he responded to numerous requests for help, including several life threatening incidents.
Several members of the public were also acknowledged, including Ned Pannell, who helped subdue a "highly aggressive and violent offender" who had knocked a police officer unconscious in an unprovoked attack at Brunswick Heads in May 2016.
Young boy Jesse Hutton was praised for his quick thinking at the Mullumbimby Farmers Markets in September 2016 when he noticed a split in the trunk of a large tree. The area was subsequently cordoned off just before the tree fell, causing extensive damage to the stockyards.
Shannon Hill was also acknowledged for his help in apprehending an offender in December 2015 after using his jetski to chase the man down in Terranora Creek.
Supt Starling said for every award given, there would be "countless acts of bravery and acts of dedication that go unnoticed".
"For those who are receiving awards today, be proud," he said.
"I believe that every police officer that straps on his or her firearm and goes out into the unkown at the start of their shift is a hero."