The good cop to call it a day

Campaspe News - - NEWS - By LANA MUR­PHY

FOR­MER Rochester res­i­dent and Vic­to­rian Po­lice union boss Ron Id­dles is step­ping down from his role after three years in the job.

The dec­o­rated cop — pegged as one of Aus­tralia’s great­est homi­cide de­tec­tives — will re­tire after 40 years of polic­ing on Fe­bru­ary 24 next year.

Born in Rochester, then mov­ing to Ba­mawm in 1963, the for­mer Rochester Pri­mary and Lock­ing­ton Con­sol­i­dated School stu­dent said in a state­ment he had put his job ahead of his fam­ily for too long.

‘‘It's high time this changed,’’ he said.

‘‘I owe it to my beloved wife, Colleen, my three chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to be more gen­er­ous with my time – some­thing I haven't done so well in the past.

‘‘I have been in­volved in law en­force­ment for 40 years, but I also know I am ap­proach­ing the last quar­ter of my life, and would like to do lots of things be­fore the fi­nal siren sounds.’’

Only a fort­night ago, Mr Id­dles was on the stage of El­more Field Days, telling hun­dreds of au­di­ence mem­bers about life work­ing as a homi­cide de­tec­tive and the men­tal health strug­gles that come with that.

He took the sec­re­tary job at the po­lice as­so­ci­a­tion in 2014 after be­ing sec­onded to the union and has cam­paigned tire- lessly for bet­ter men­tal health sup­port for of­fi­cers.

This year he made a sub­mis­sion to the gov­ern­ment for new laws that would see men­tal ill­nesses au­to­mat­i­cally at­trib­uted to an of­fi­cer's work when mak­ing in­sur­ance claims, rather than plac­ing the onus on them to prove it.

His fa­ther Bill — who still lives in Rochester — said he got a cou­ple of min­utes time with his son ear­lier this month to chat at the field days, and knew the an­nounce­ment was com­ing.

‘‘But I haven’t watched the news to­day,’’ he said on Fri­day. ‘‘When does he fin­ish up?’’ He said Ron had bought a car­a­van and planned to take a trip around Aus­tralia with his fam­ily.

‘‘I’ll have to give him a call to find out the rest,’’ he laughed.

After join­ing the homi­cide squad in 1980, Ron Id­dles has worked on more than 300 mur­ders — with a 99 per cent con­vic­tion rate.

Most re­cently, that in­cluded over­see­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Mel­bourne mur­der of Jill Meagher in 2012.

He caused con­tro­versy a year later, show­ing a photo from the crime scene at a fundraiser in Bendigo.

Just last week, he made head­lines blam­ing weak judges and a lack of po­lice for Vic­to­ria’s spike in crime, telling The Aus­tralian “I don’t think I’ve seen it this bad”.

“We have reg­u­lar car­jack­ings, we have reg­u­lar home in­va­sions, as­saults are up on our mem­bers, it’s just a dan­ger­ous en­vi­ron­ment. And then you’ve got to add the threat of ter­ror­ism,’’ he said.

‘‘It is just a to­tal lack of re­spect.’’

In July, a book by Jus­tine Ford was re­leased, de­tail­ing Ron’s dec­o­rated po­lice ca­reer.

Within three days of its re­lease it had sold 10,000 copies as book­sell­ers — in­clud­ing Rochester Newsagency — scram­bled to find more copies to meet the stag­ger­ing de­mand.

‘‘He used to help with the milk­ing of the cows and al­ways fin­ished up early so he could watch Homi­cide. That’s how he be­came in­ter­ested (in the po­lice force),’’ fa­ther Bill said.

Ron will hand over the ba­ton in 2017 — the Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion’s cen­te­nary year.

“It’s been a real priv­i­lege and hon­our to be rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of Vic­to­ria’s finest — our 14,500 hard­work­ing po­lice of­fi­cers and PSOs,’’ Mr Id­dles said.

‘‘And I in­tend to con­tinue to do my very best to­wards achiev­ing fur­ther pos­i­tive out­comes on their be­half un­til my last day in the job.”

After 40 years as a cop and the past three as the head of the Vic­to­rian po­lice union, Ron Id­dles will re­tire in Fe­bru­ary.

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