Local motorcycle police.
Local motorcycle police.

It was a Black Prince who ruled

THE Black Prince was the personification of a 1950s police officer.

Immaculately dressed in a suit and tie, hair slicked back, shoes shining, fedora in place and a loyal member of the police coterie.

But while this mysterious nickname, born of his constantly impeccable presentation, could be instantly associated with him, few dared to say it to Harold Richmond Fredericks' face.

The sounds of young constables scrambling for the shoe shine and whispers of 'the Prince is coming' would fill the hallways of the old Lismore Police Station, as the area's top cop, Mr Fredericks, entered the building.

But the effort the Ballina-born cop put into his appearance was equalled by his dedication for policing and serving the community.

The father of four became a policing icon in the Lismore area after an admirable and highly-regarded career that spanned from the late 1940s to the '80s.

"He was very passionate about the job and his men," the Prince's son, Paul Fredericks said. Paul followed in his father footsteps to become a police officer.

Lismore Police Station first opened in 1855 but there were foot and mounted police in the region from 1839 - known as the Border Police Force.

A century later, and after starting as a fresh-faced constable in Sydney, Mr Fredericks was one of two detective constables first class in Lismore in the late 1950s.

The flower beds of the police station blossomed, thanks to prisoners who worked off their fines and penalties in the gardens.

"I remember my father would buy them a bit of tobacco or give them a bit more in their daily meals for doing the gardens," Paul said.

"(The police station gardens) actually won a couple of competitions back then."

Policing back then was absent of technology and demanded patience and manpower.

In stark contrast to the current decorated automobiles, Mr Fredericks battled on the front line against crime on an Indian motorcycle with sidecar.

"Back in those days computers were not in existence and everything was done on a typewriter," Paul Fredericks said.

"If my father was alive today, his head would be spinning with the systems."

Paul remembers the big crimes, like homicides, always being there but breaking into someone's home and stealing were seen as just as abominable in his father's day.

"They were rare and it was considered by police and the judiciary to be an extremely serious offence," he said.

"Whereas now, to enter a man's home and steal property is not considered to be of the same seriousness by some - but certainly still by the police."

Paul clearly remembers one murder case that captured his father's time and dedication.

Sandra Joy Truscott was one of six murders in six months in the Lismore District which stretched from the Queensland border to Tea Gardens (between Newcastle and Forster), in 1971.

The killer was chased by local detectives to South Australia.

"I remember him being away from home a lot for that case," Paul explained.

"It was all unpaid in those days. They got paid for general duties but not to be away."

After returning to Sydney in 1975 to head the detectives, Mr Fredericks later rose through the ranks to become Chief Inspector of the Lismore District.

He left the force in 1982 and became mayor of Lismore in 1987 and was a founding member of the Northern Region Helicopter Rescue Service.

With heavy hearts, Lismore farewelled The Black Prince in 2007.

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