Thanks for your ser­vice, Sarge

Heath­cote po­lice of­fi­cer re­tir­ing af­ter 40 years on the force


OVER a decade ago, Sergeant John Olver was called to a do­mes­tic dis­pute in Bendigo. What he didn’t know was that the man he would be at­tempt­ing to calm down was wield­ing an axe.

It wasn’t used to at­tack him — in fact, when he asked the man to hand it over, the sit­u­a­tion was de­fused.

But it is an ex­am­ple of what po­lice of­fi­cers can face every day, and what Sgt Olver is leav­ing be­hind af­ter 40 years in the job.

Sgt Olver will of­fi­cially step into re­tire­ment to­day, as a 60-year-old man with plenty of sto­ries to tell.

Af­ter start­ing in Mel­bourne, Sgt Olver was shifted around. He did a stint in Stawell, be­fore a trans­fer to Bendigo and then even­tu­ally to Heath­cote.

“I was do­ing an en­gi­neer­ing course at uni but wasn’t thor­oughly en­joy­ing it and thought the po­lice force was the way to go for me,” he said.

He has been in Heath­cote for 10 years now. It’s the gen­tle na­ture of the town — and the lack of night shifts — that has kept him here.

He has seen a lot change in the force through­out his ca­reer.

“Things have changed for the bet­ter over my time — I think it is a whole lot more pro­fes­sional now.

“And that’s not a re­flec­tion of us, or the peo­ple who trained us, it’s more times have changed.

“I watch these new of­fi­cers to­day and think, wow, they are so pre­pared.”

Sgt Olver said he had never had to pur­sue any­one with a firearm. For a mo­ment, he thought his first time was go­ing to be just the other night.

“We got a call say­ing some­one was around town with one, I thought, how ironic, it’s com­ing to an end and now it hap­pens.”

He said a lot of the time the dan­ger you face as an of­fi­cer isn’t right in front of you.

“It’s a bit like the axe story, stuff like that, a lot of the time as a po­lice of­fi­cer you don’t re­ally know what you are get­ting your­self into.

“I prob­a­bly haven’t ever had a mo­ment where I feared for my life, but a few times when you are in pur­suit of a ve­hi­cle it can get a lit­tle stress­ful.”

Like any­one, Sgt Olver has be­come ac­cus­tomed to get­ting up, head­ing into work every day, and see­ing the same peo­ple.

“It will be a lit­tle weird not be­ing in the sta­tion with a lot of the crew here every day,” he said.

“A day doesn’t go by when you don’t see them or chat to them so it is go­ing to be strange.”

Sgt Olver is the fa­ther to three sons, two of whom work in agri­cul­ture, and one who has fol­lowed him into the po­lice force. He la­belled this his proud­est mo­ment. “When I was able to present him with his ID, it was an amaz­ing mo­ment for our fam­ily.”

Sgt Olver is happy he has made it through un­scathed, say­ing, “to be hon­est I’m very happy I have fin­ished with good health”.

“I loved this job mainly be­cause of the ca­ma­raderie, and the fact you can make a dif­fer­ence.”

In re­tire­ment, Sgt Olver plans to work on his three Hold­ens he has sit­ting at home, one of them is “still on its guts in the pad­dock but will be good for parts”.

He is head­ing to Europe too, un­sure of how long he will be there.

One thing is for sure though, Heath­cote, and Bendigo be­fore it, were safer with John Olver in the force.

A lot of the time as a po­lice of­fi­cer you don’t re­ally know what you are get­ting your­self into — John Olver

Sergeant John Olver from Heath­cote Po­lice is hand­ing in his badge af­ter 40 years. In­set, Sgt Olver ear­lier in his ca­reer.

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