Poignant mo­ment for Com­mis­sioner

Joondalup Times - - NEWS - Mark Don­ald­son

JOON­DALUP EDGEWATER COM­MIS­SIONER Karl O’Cal­laghan’s 13 years as WA’s po­lice boss end to­day, but clo­sure al­ready came for him on Fri­day with an emo­tional farewell speech at Joon­dalup Po­lice Academy.

There will be a per­ma­nent re­minder at the academy of Mr O’Cal­laghan’s 43 years of po­lice work, with the pa­rade ground on which he was speak­ing now named ‘Karl J. O’Cal­laghan Pa­rade Ground’.

Mr O’Cal­laghan, whose voice rarely fal­ters in the spot­light, had to take a mo­ment to com­pose him­self as he re­told the story of how cat­a­stroph­i­cally in­jured of­fi­cer Ryan Mar­ron stood up from his wheel­chair to re­ceive his re­tire­ment medal at a re­cent cer­e­mony.

Mr Mar­ron, a for­mer con­sta­ble, was left paral­ysed and un­able to speak af­ter con­tract­ing Mur­ray Val­ley en­cephali­tis in a re­mote com­mu­nity in 2011.

“To see him get up out of his wheel­chair and stand for me to re­ceive his medal was one of the most poignant mo­ments for me as po­lice com­mis­sioner… it sticks here in my heart,” Mr O’Cal­laghan told the crowd.

He said he wore his heart on his sleeve as a po­lice­man, re­call­ing an­other mov­ing mo­ment when he had to tell the wife of an of­fi­cer that her hus­band had been hit by a car and killed.

Mr O’Cal­laghan and the po­lice chap­lain at­tended the scene of the of­fi­cer’s death the night it hap­pened.

“When we got there, his body was ly­ing on the me­dian strip,” he re­flected.

“We both knelt down to­gether and he said a prayer; that was prob­a­bly one of the low­est points of be­ing Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, hav­ing to then go and tell his wife what hap­pened.”

Speak­ing to me­dia af­ter the cer­e­mony, Mr O’Cal­laghan ad­mit­ted he wasn’t big on pomp, but con­sid­ered the pro­ceed­ings to be a stir­ring way to end his ca­reer.

An­swer­ing a ques­tion from the Times on in­com­ing Com­mis­sioner Chris Daw­son, he said their styles were dif­fer­ent but ex­pected con­tin­ued re­form un­der his watch.

“Our views and our com­mit­ments on what polic­ing should be are very sim­i­lar,” he said.

Pic­ture: Mark Don­ald­son

Karl O’Cal­laghan speaks at his farewell cer­e­mony at Joon­dalup Po­lice Academy.

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