The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Advice to make most of money with Noel Whittaker

- Susie

Susie Forte, widow of slain policeman Brett Forte, was asked to pen an article for the QPS Police Bulletin. Her comments were raw and powerful, but the publicatio­n decided not to publish much of what she said.

Her brother-in-law Luke Forte has provided The Sunday Mail with her piece.

In 2016, I performed a secondment in the role of a “DV Project Officer” at Toowoomba Station.

Without any specific job descriptio­n for this DV role … it was decided that I would concentrat­e solely on high risk.

I applied for this role because I always had a vested interest in investigat­ing DVs and knew that high risk respondent­s posed a significan­t risk to the community.

In March 2017, I identified a high risk respondent who was involved in attending his ex-partner’s residence and dischargin­g a firearm. This respondent had a long history of significan­t violence upon people.

Due to my concerns about him, I worked closely with the ex-partner and quickly had her and her children moved to a safe location pending the location and subsequent arrest of the respondent.

Fast forward to the 29th of May 2017, the day that ultimately changed my life forever.

On this day, I was on-duty when my late husband, Senior Constable Brett Forte, was murdered by that very same respondent.

The terrifying radio calls will always be etched in my memory.

The weeks after Brett’s death remain a blur. I went from being a full-time shift worker, on a double income wage raising three children, to a single parent on one wage.

The ongoing media attention (especially with our children being in public eye constantly) and the fear of going back to work was extremely overwhelmi­ng, and

I honestly did not know if I wanted to pursue my career as a police officer.

In July 2017, I returned to full-time Monday-Friday work.

To some, this short period of being away from work whilst having recently lost Brett may have seemed unrealisti­c, however, if it weren’t for the officer-incharge of Toowoomba Police Station, Senior Sergeant Tony Neumann, and close work colleagues and friends, all of whom have offered continued unwavering support, I do not believe I would be where I am today.

I believe returning to work as soon as possible and being surrounded by a great support network is the foundation for a healthy recovery.

Our children were and are extremely anxious and scared and keep asking me what would happen if I were also to be killed, something I could not answer.

You came back to a tough job dealing with domestic and family violence perpetrato­rs. There were alternativ­es – find another (easier) job … quit work altogether … why did you choose to come back to work?

I returned to work with a lot of hesitation and uncertaint­y and coming back to a dangerous job dealing with high-risk DV respondent­s was daunting, knowing that Brett was killed by a respondent I recognised as being dangerous.

I have some comfort in knowing that by working closely with the ex-partner of Brett’s murderer, my actions ensured her and her children were not harmed in any way. I do get emotionall­y and physically exhausted, however, in order to cope with working full time and raising a family. I run most days. Whenever I’m having a bad day, I’ll put headphones in and run.

My brother Luke Morris and I made a pact to run the NYC Marathon together in 2019, which we did. This training diverted my attention from the grief my children and I were suffering, and the actual event was the one time since Brett’s death when I felt at peace.

How do you move through grief and anger without being swallowed up by it?

The challenges I have had to endure since Brett’s death can be described as horrific. I have been subjected to ongoing harassment and disgusting behaviours by some members of the community, one person saying, “you would be better off dead with your husband”, and another saying, “the guy who killed your husband is my hero”.

And, just when you think the heartbreak of losing a loved one suddenly could not worsen, the way I have been treated by a minority of colleagues, who have not only blamed me for Brett’s death (because of my role working within the DV unit at the time) but have made my journey of recovery extremely challengin­g.

However, being faced with such encounters has only made me more resilient. I am a very private person and have never spoken to any source since Brett’s death.

The reason I agreed to do this story was to let everyone know that no matter what adversity you may face, you can and will get through each day.

I want others to know how important it is to have people in your work environmen­t that support you … ones you can trust and know will be there during the tough days and nights. Don’t be afraid to have a good cry when you need to and keep your sense of humour. I have found, even though I am a terribly ugly crier, I have found that it is self-soothing.

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