Outstanding efforts and long years of service from police were recognised on Tuesday at the Western Region’s Divisional Awards Ceremony.
A few stories stood out.
Escape efforts recognised
The situation at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre was chaotic when police arrived in January of 2017.
After a riot 15 inmates had escaped from the centre and were on the run, posing an immediate danger to the public.
A mammoth effort from police saw all the offenders caught within 48 hours.
Three police were recognised for their work on the case at the Western Region Divisional Awards Ceremony on Tuesday.
Sergeant Peter Law, Detective Leading Senior Constable Wade Andrews and Detective Leading Senior Constable Glenn Johnston received divisional commendations for their professionalism, dedication, resilience and skills displayed during the investigation.
Detective Leading Senior Constable Andrews said the escape was “unprecedented” in terms of the number of escapees, and the seriousness of the offences committed.
He said the first objective of officers was to look after public safety, as it was clear people were at risk.
The 15 escapees were charged with over 200 offences, ranging from armed robbery to theft of a motor vehicle.
Detective Leading Senior Constable Andrews said police made a huge effort which strained resources for weeks after.
“It was satisfying because it was something that could have got a lot worse had we not had some luck and caught up with them as quickly as we did,” he said.
Sergeant Peter Law was officer in charge of the Macedon Ranges Criminal Investigation Unit at the time of the escape.
Sergeant Law said there were a lot of officers who will be unrecognised, but did a terrific job during the crisis.
He said said the communities of Kyneton and Malmsbury were helped through the crisis by a respect for the police that was becoming rare.
“The community at Kyneton and Malmsbury should be congratulated on their response to the incident and their assistance to police, and the way they treat the police and they respect us,” he said.
Saving lives in the line of duty
It was just what anyone else would have done in the situation, according to Leading Senior Constable Dan O’Bree.
He and Leading Senior Constable Jeffrey Arandt were awarded Divisional Commendations on Tuesday for giving lifesaving first aid to a member of the public in Heathcote in February.
The pair saved a man’s life by performing CPR for half an hour, before paramedics took him to hospital.
The officers were working in less than easy conditions.
They had initially been called out to keep members of the public away from a swarm of bees until a beekeeper could be found.
Then a woman pulled up on High Street in Heathcote saying her partner wasn’t breathing.
Frequent CPR training meant the actions came to the officers automatically.
Leading Senior Constable O’Bree said he was proud of his commendation, but that helping people was part of the reason he was a police officer.
“It was just nothing that anyone else wouldn’t have done,” he said.
“You get a lot of reward for helping people and stopping crimes.”
Years of work commended
Nearly two years of paintstaking police work was recognised on Tuesday morning at Victoria Police’s Western Region Divisional Awards ceremony.
Leading Senior Constable Kerrie Davies has been awarded a Divisional Commendation for her work on a complex family violence investigation.
An initial family violence incident drew Castlemaine’s Leading Senior Constable Davies’ attention to the case.
From there it was like a “snowball” as new information came to light.
The case was a huge amount of work for the Leading Senior Constable, while she managed her general duties as well.
In the end she spent nearly two years investigating the case as more and more offences came to light, with at least five other victims involved.
Eventually the offender had 135 charges laid against him and was put in prison for nine months.
The woman who was a victim of the initial offence and her family were relocated because they were in danger.
What is most satisfying for Leading Senior Constable Davies is the face that the victim and her family are now living safely and peacefully.
She said she is grateful to her sergeants for giving her the space to investigate such a complex case, which was the biggest she has worked on.
“It was a very big [case], but to have an end result, that makes it all worthwhile,” Leading Senior Constable Davies said.
“Knowing that I was able to help the victim and her family and the five other victims was extremely important to me.
“I’m very passionate about family violence… were very serious assaults.”
Leading Senior Constable Davies joined the police force 12 and a half years ago.
It was the example of her brother and sister, also both police officers, which led her to join.
“I was so proud of the work they did that I wanted to follow in their footsteps,” Leading Senior Constable Davies said.
Based in Castlemaine, she has worked previously at Sunbury and Bendigo stations.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.