PANSW OpEd - Newcastle Herald - 28 April 2020
Police have a front-line role in every emergency scenario in NSW, including COVID-19 - PANSW President Tony King:
On the Thursday before Easter, 275 men and women stood on a parade ground. They were being sworn in as the latest police officers duty bound to protect the people of NSW.
This was not the same ceremony their 16,700 plus workmates had encountered before them. This was a ceremony in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was enforced social distancing, no family, friends or pomp and ceremony, just the oath they took that changed them and what was expected of them as long as they wear that blue uniform.
These constables now hold a position that comes with expectations and responsibilities like no other job in NSW.
When you join the NSW Police you wear many hats, you are a keeper of the peace, a mediator, an educator, a mentor and the state's enforcer.
Often overlooked is that police play a front-line role in every emergency scenario in the state. NSW Police officers are this state's Universal Disaster Responder.
Police don't have a charter or parameters when it comes to disasters or emergencies, they are on the front line for everything that effects the safety of the population of NSW.
Eight million of us can sleep well at night knowing that the state today has almost 17,000 of these brave men and women in the ranks at the front line no matter what the scenario.
This year as the state burned and our fire fighters both volunteer and paid took on once in a life time fire fronts, police officers worked hand in glove coordinating responses, evacuations, road closures, security of abandoned neighbourhoods and the bringing to justice of those who believed they were easy prey for theft and looting.
Often police left their own homes unprotected to make sure others were safe.
In true Australian style we went from fire to flood within weeks and again the same men and women in blue, stood up to be the Universal Disaster Responders once again. Our teammates in combating this went from wearing the yellow of the Rural Fire Service to the orange of the State Emergency Service.
Officers who weeks earlier had been avoiding embers, flames and falling trees were now soaked to the core in waist-deep water, again rescuing and evacuating residents, closing dangerous roads and avoiding falling trees for an entirely different reason.
Eighty four Local Government areas from Armidale to Woollahra were affected and police were in every one of those areas, protecting the community.
Today we find ourselves in the middle of a new emergency, and our medical teams, our nurses, doctors and hospital staff are working around the clock to combat COVID-19 medically.
Police are at the coal face once again working in and around hot zones with NSW Health staff and the military.
The experts have told us how to flatten the curve and police are working to make that a reality.
While the community isolates at home we are on the street maintaining law and order.
While the community are being advised on how to stay away from high-risk situations and potential exposures police are walking into them.
Like our medical colleagues, many police are sleeping away from their families for fear of exposing their families should they contract this virus.
Cops will keep turning up day after day remembering the oath they took on the parade ground, be that a few weeks ago or 40 years earlier.
I am proud of them, as individual professionals and as members of the blue family.
Enforcing the isolation of returned travellers and those directed to stay home will save lives. In some circles this has been portrayed as excessive, but the numbers are showing it does, and has, and will save lives by reducing community transfer of the virus.
The actions being performed are all about protecting people you love from this hideous virus.
Next time you see police officers in the street, give them a thumbs-up to thank them for what they do, remembering no matter the circumstance, they are fulfilling a commitment to hold that thin blue line for you.
Field Organisers of the Police Association of New South Wales go wherever our members most need them.
Photo gallery - 10 April | Good Friday 2020
Police officers from across metropolitan Sydney, and drawn from both PACs and specialist commands, have been rostered around the clock at the quarantine zones created at hotels at various locations around the city.
PANSW President Tony King joined with Organisers Ben Lee and Ed Murphy, and Lead Organiser Jon Goddard (he's the big, tall, bald, handsome bloke featured in most of the photos below) for a full nine hours on Good Friday 2020 to visit with members at more than 20 hotel sites.
These are invaluable opportunities to hear directly from officers on one of the highly visible frontlines of COVID-19, as they perform duties to keep the community safe during this global pandemic.
Tony King: "The smiles brought to the faces of these hard-working officers through talking and sharing around some Easter treats was heartening to see. While serving police across the state are no strangers to working weekends and holidays, and being away from friends and family, being involved at the sharp end of the pandemic is especially hard for all concerned. Our members deserve trust and support and respect for what they are doing".
Photo gallery - 30 March 2020
Below Organisers Rod 'Shero' Sheraton and Marty Evans started their rounds with visits to the Hilton and the Intercontinental - not a normal, everyday working environment for our members.
Each visit consists of checking in with the officers at each location to hear first-hand about the challenging conditions they are working under in order to maximise public and community safety.
A prime focus was the posting of additional safety information and representing members' safety interests in this most complex and difficult of times.