Long arm of law reaches out to thank its officers
Will Jackson email@example.com WHAT would you do faced with a suicidal man flicking lit matches at a 20 litre jerry can full of petrol? Would you smash his car window with your baton and wrestle him from the vehicle, hoping he didn't grab one of the hunting knives sitting on his passenger seat? That's what Leading Senior Constable Steve Connor, Senior Constable Steve Kelly and Sergeant Greg Pike did when faced with that situation one sunny day in Ballina. Pretty gutsy stuff. But the incident was only one of a number of examples of extreme bravery recognised during a special medals and awards ceremony in Alstonville yesterday. During the ceremony more than 30 police and ambulance officers had their actions, achievements and long years of service honoured with medals, clasps and certificates in the presence of the Richmond Local Area Command's Superintendent Bruce Lyons, Assistant Police Commissioner Peter Parsons, NSW Ambulance Northern Division assistant operations manager, Stephen Flanagan, local mayors, members of parliament and Bundjalung Elder Bertha Kapeen. During the ceremony Assistant Commissioner Parsons said the police service's most vital asset was the men and women who put their lives at risk on a daily basis. He said the event was an opportunity to give them a token of appreciation and direct recognition in a tough and thankless job. One of the more emotional moments came when Jill McKenzie accepted her late husband Sergeant Colin McKenzie's Certificate of Service on his behalf. Sgt McKenzie, a former member of the Ballina Highway Patrol, died last year after suffering a heart attack during a Police Remembrance Day rehearsal. "I know he would up there looking down at us," Ms McKenzie said with tears in her eyes. "He'd be telling me to stand up straight, and not to cry." Sen Const Conner, Sen Const Kelly and Sgt Pike were all given bravery commendations. Sgt Pike said the awards were the furthest thing from his mind when dealing with the explosive situation he ended up being commended for. "I was mainly thinking about whether the fumes from the fuel were going to ignite," he said. "I thought it was going to go up." Even though all three said risking their lives was simply part of the job, having their actions recognised was heartening. "It's nice to get a bit of recognition," said Sen Const Kelly.