Commissioner Tony Negus
National Police Memorial Canberra
Opening address, September 29, 2010
I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal people. We recognise their elders, past and present, and their connection to this land.
Thank you for coming here today to mark National Police Remembrance Day and to commemorate police officers who have given their lives while serving their community.
I would particularly like to welcome Her Excellency, the Governor General, Quentin Bryce, who is attending this year’s service in her capacity as Patron of the National Police Memorial, and his Excellency Mr Michael Bryce; The Honourable Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, also tonight representing the Prime Minister of Australia; Mr Michael Keenan MP, Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection; Senator for the ACT, Mr Gary Humphries, representing the Federal Leader of the Opposition; Mr John Hargraves MLA, representing the Chief Minister of the ACT; Major General Steve Day DSC, representing the Chief of the Defence Force; Members of the Diplomatic corps.
A special welcome to the family members of the late New South Wales Police Detective Constable William Crews VA; Representatives from law enforcement agencies across Australia and the Pacific; Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Each year across Australia and the Southwest Pacific we observe Police Remembrance Day by holding a service on the 29th of September, the feast day of Saint Michael, the patron saint of police.
For the past five years a service to commemorate the lives of Australian police who died while on duty has been held here, at the National Police Memorial in Canberra.
There are now 749 touchstones on the memorial wall. Each one represents a dedication to duty and a life lost in undertaking that duty.
Sadly, another touchstone was added to the wall earlier today.
On the 9th of September, Detective Constable William Crews from the New South Wales Police Force was fatally wounded during an operation in Sydney.
His loss is deeply felt by his family and friends, but has also significantly touched the community at large and his police colleagues from across the country. I would again like to offer my condolences to his family who are here with us this evening, during what is obviously a very difficult time.
As police officers, we share a dedication to upholding the rule of law and to protecting our communities. We are committed to working together to ensure we remain as effective as possible in carrying out that duty. No matter what jurisdiction or police force we are a part of, we share a common goal to combat all forms of crime.
Having a national day of remembrance for police helps us to acknowledge the dangers of our profession, the importance of the sacrifice of these brave officers and the challenges that lie ahead.
National Police Remembrance Day also helps us to recognise the friendship and loyalty of our colleagues, and the importance of values such as integrity, trust and respect in policing.
These shared values are part of the glue that binds us together as a policing family and while the future environment for law enforcement will continue to challenge all of us, I know that we will continue to work together to protect the interests of our nation.
Importantly, this site recognises members of Australian police forces who have been killed on duty going right back to the earliest days of policing in this country.
The earliest recorded death of an officer recognised on the wall behind me is the 26th August 1803. New touchstones are added as historical records are found of officers who were killed protecting their communities throughout our history.
This year the names of six Victorian police officers have been added to the wall from historical records.
They include Constable Matthew Tonkin, who was shot by a prisoner he was escorting in 1837, and Mounted Constable William Lunney, who suffered an accidental death while delivering summonses in 1910.
This evening, I would also like to acknowledge the losses suffered by other law enforcement agencies across the region and we have many representatives here tonight as you see.
The reading of the roll of honour will identify each of these officers shortly.
Today, we honour their memories, as well as the memories of all officers named on this memorial wall who died in the course of their duty.
Finally, we also thank the men and women still serving in our police forces who, each and every day, put their communities before themselves.