The annual National Police Remembrance Day at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Tamworth yesterday had a poignant and a very personal touch to the service as friends, family, serving and retired police and service personnel gathered to mark many memories.
The service commemorates all Australasian police officers killed while performing their duty and was attended by more than 100 people. Around the country and in other regional centres, similar services remembered the brave.
In the past year the Oxley Area Command has lost two members and much of the service commemorated them.
Senior Constable David Rixon was shot in Coledale in March, the only police officer to be killed in the line of duty this year in NSW.
Sabine Altmann, who was the region’s domestic violence coordinator, was tragically killed in a road accident near Premer on October 31 last year.
They were among 13 members of the NSW Police Force to have died in the past 12 months.
The ceremony began with the bagpipes piping in the flag party to present the flags and Senior Constable Rixon’s cap.
The opening address was delivered by Oxley and New England Area Superintendent Clint Pheeney who talked about the pride and commitment of the 150-year old NSW Police Force.
Superintendent Pheeney reminded the congregation to not only remember the 251 names on the distinguished honour roll, but to also think of the blank spots that have not yet been filled – and the fact that due to the nature of policing, the honour roll will never be complete.
Superintendent Pheeney described Sabine Altmann as a woman totally dedicated to victims of domestic violence and abuse and said the area suffered a great loss with her death.
“Today the lost officers of the NSW Police Force are in our thoughts, but you are forever in our hearts,” he said.
Police chaplain Andrew Newman conducted the service with thoughts about the great risks and sacrifices all police officers make on a daily basis for the community to feel and remain safe.
He spoke of how what he had seen and learnt in his 20 years as chaplain had affected his life and made him who he was.
The service included several readings and prayers by local junior officers and a moving poem, The Path of The Fallen, recited by Inspector Kylie Endemi, before concluding with wreaths being laid by the Altmann and Rixon families.
The Requiescat was then played which is the police force equivalent of The Last Post, before a minute’s silence and the national anthem.
The day is officially observed on September 29, the feast day of the patron saint of police, Saint Michael, but was moved this year as it fell on the long weekend.
“This day provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon the ultimate sacrifice each of those 251 officers made, and pay tribute to their collective and individual legacies,” Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said in a statement.