NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s valedictory in full.
At approximately 8am on Thursday, March 2, 2012, Senior Constable David James Rixon was patrolling in police vehicle Oxley 203.
In what is believed to be a routine traffic stop, Senior Constable Rixon pulled a vehicle over in Lorraine St, West Tamworth. He approached the vehicle and an offender drew a weapon and opened fire.
Suffering gunshot wounds, Senior Constable Rixon returned fire, attempting to secure the offender with his handcuffs before he
Senior Constable Rixon was rushed to Tamworth Base Hospital but died soon after as a result of his injuries.
Senior Constable David James Rixon attested as a probationary constable on April 26, 1991.
He commenced general duties policing, firstly at the Hamilton patrol, and then at the Belmont patrol in Newcastle, before being confirmed to the rank of constable on April 26, 1992.
Constable Rixon remained in general duties until February 12, 1995, when he was successful in obtaining a transfer to Waratah highway patrol. This was the first of a number of highway patrol postings that were to follow at Newcastle, Gunnedah, and Tamworth and the attainment of the rank of senior constable.
Throughout his service as a highway patrol officer, Senior Constable Rixon undertook extensive internal training in his chosen policing
He was awarded the NSW Police Medal; the National Medal; as well as the first and second clasps to the NSW Police Medal.
Recognition was also forthcoming from the community, many of whom were moved to write letters of appreciation commending David for the care, dedication and professionalism with which he went about his work.
Last week I proudly stood and marched alongside 800 police officers representing each and every dedicated member of the force as part of the “Sea of Blue” – a celebration of the NSW Police Force’s 150th anniversary.
On their behalf, I accepted the thanks of a city and a state.
We honoured the achievements of our predecessors and we remembered the sacrifice of 250 police officers who gave their lives in the service of the community.
Less than 24 hours later, I again stood as Police Commissioner, and as a fellow officer, with the family of Senior Constable David Rixon.
And afterwards with his workmates at Oxley Local Area Command, struggling to come to terms with the loss of one of our finest.
A police officer who personified every one of the ideals celebrated by a grateful NSW public just the day before.
It is never easy to say goodbye to someone who meant so much to so many. In the fog of a senseless tragedy this much we know: we have lost a beloved father, son, husband and friend.
A dedicated police officer who leaves behind a devoted wife and six loving children.
A man who committed more
than half his life to protecting the
Police officers share a special bond. The bond is forged through the shared ideal of protecting people, and having to face hardship, conflict and potential danger together. Each and every day.
Police officers go to work knowing that the job has exacted the ultimate sacrifice in the past, and sadly, will do so again in the future.
The danger of the unknown is ever present; the risk – the threat – that may or may not be realised.
Policing is a profession that attracts passionate people. And that is certainly true of David and his fellow highway patrol officers.
They travel vast distances working across the state to patrol our road networks, creating a visible police presence targeting dangerous and speeding motorists and doing everything within their powers to minimise the chance of harm coming to the rest of us.
They witness the devastation of road trauma first-hand and they are fiercely determined to eliminate it.
That passion was abundant in David.
Such was his commitment when he first joined the highway patrol that his fellow officers crossed their fingers and hoped that David’s family members were all careful drivers ... because they would not be getting any special treatment from him.
As time progressed that zeal softened, but his resolve never did. David mellowed into the typical and prized country cop. A professional and a good bloke.
Tied to the community where he lived and went to school and intent on upholding the values it helped instil in him. In the best traditions of policing, David embraced his role as a police officer – for the safety and harmony that he could promote – for the good that he could do.
He never wavered from this approach, right up to his moment of passing.
I am certain those close to David will at once recognise the man I describe, even though I provide the simplest of outlines. His qualities were positive and defining – precious to those close to him – reassuring to those with whom his job brought him into contact and invaluable to a police force whose reputation and success depends on the strength and reach of its community ties. Many will grieve. Many will feel his loss.
For his mates at the New England chapter of Blue Liners Australia, a motorcycle club for police and their friends, a riding partner, a regular at their coffee meetings and a kindred spirit will be missing.
For his fellow officers in Tamworth who spoke to me in very straightforward terms of their loss, they will be deprived of “one of the best people you are likely to come across”.
And for his devoted family – his widow, Fiona, and their children: Renae, Jemma, Scott, Mathew, Hayley and Patrick, they have lost, without warning and without reason, a man they loved. And, with him, a large part of their lives.
Last Friday, the very day of the tragedy, I spoke to Jemma and learnt that she is studying to be a police officer. It is a measure of David’s character and that of his family that I could not interest her in postponing her studies – though I assured her of a place until she felt ready.
Jemma was grateful – but resolute. She wanted to go ahead. With tears streaming down her face she told me: “I want to make my father proud.”
Through his family, David’s quiet determination lives on. And so too,
I hope, through Jemma, his life of service.
For his wider police family – of which all police officers and their families are a part – David’s demise will neither be forgotten nor be in vain. David’s courage and conviction inspire us now – and will into the future. The fatal assault on him will only serve to strengthen our resolve to protect and serve the community.
Of that David can be sure.
It is my honour today to posthumously confer three awards on Senior Constable David James Rixon.
The Commissioner’s Sesquicentenary Citation: recognising the contributions of all police over 150 years.
The National Police Service Medal: recognising David’s ethical and diligent service in protecting the
The establishment of the National Police Service Medal was signed by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in November of 2010,and the Governor-General awards the medal on the recommendation of the responsible Police Force Commissioner.
And the Commissioner’s Valour Award for conspicuous action and exceptional courage.
In part the valour citation reads:
Conferred for conspicuous merit and exceptional bravery whilst under fire during the execution of his duties at Tamworth on Friday, 2 March 2012.
By his conspicuous actions and exceptional courage in a dangerous situation, Senior Constable Rixon evinced the highest standards of the NSW Police Force and is so conferred with the Commissioner’s Valour Award.
Senior Constable David Rixon gave his life in the very way that he had lived it. In the service of others.
His loss, tragic for his family and many friends, is profound for each and every one of us. No words are adequate to express or lessen that loss. His death reminds us that keeping the peace can exact a heavy price. And it is a price that is not met equally or fairly. David Rixon and his family and friends are meeting the debt, unfairly because it is a debt that we all equally share.
We farewell Senior Constable David Rixon today, but he will not be forgotten. Not here in Tamworth, not in the rest of the state, and not by generations to come. As is right and proper, his name will be etched into the granite of the Police Wall of Remembrance in Sydney as a permanent reminder that he, and 250 officers before him, laid down their lives for the people of NSW.
I am deeply honoured to represent every member of the NSW Police Force here today to farewell a highly regarded police officer who served his community with courage, honour and distinction.
Farewell Senior Constable David James Rixon VA.
A husband and father, a son and a friend.
A police officer.
Our prayers travel with you David; may you rest in peace.