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.