‘Community cop’ takes out ‘Rotary Police Officer of the Year’ award, NSW

A tireless country sergeant with a ‘can do’ attitude has become the first ever female nominee to win the prestigious Rotary NSW Police Officer of the Year Award, NSW Police say.

Sergeant Lisa Jones, the Crime Co-ordinator and Licensing Officer attached to Castlereagh Local Area Command at Walgett, was a finalist in the “Field Operations” category of this year’s awards.

Judges deemed that her unwavering commitment to her community as well as her local policing achievements made her worthy of the overall award.

Sergeant Jones was announced the winner by Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione APM, at a special function tonight at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Darling Harbour.

The mother of four has been a driving force behind scores of local initiatives including organising a leg of the White Ribbon Ultra-marathon; co-ordinating a ‘Safer By Design’ CCTV project for the Walgett CBD; managing a Christmas lolly drive for children; and facilitating community engagement with police at local shows and events.

Sergeant Jones has been at the forefront of local child protection and anti-domestic violence programs.

She remains a crucial part of her command’s Aboriginal Strategic Direction youth strategies and has taken part in camps and breakfast initiatives assisting Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers helping local youths.

As Castlereagh LAC’s Licensing Officer, Sergeant Jones regularly participates in community drug and alcohol education programs in her district and in her limited spare time also volunteers for the school canteen.

The Commissioner commended Sergeant Jones for her devotion to her work and local community.

“It’s obvious Sergeant Jones cares about her community and this award recognises that the community, in turn, cares about her,” Mr Scipione said.

“She has gone above and beyond in her devotion to duty and I am proud to bestow upon her the title of Rotary Police Officer of the Year,” he added.

Other winners include:

Specialist Operations/Corporate Services Police Officer of the Year:

Detective Sergeant Michael O’Keefe – Marine Area Command

Since veteran investigator, Detective Sergeant O’Keefe, was appointed the investigations manager of the Marine Area Command in 2013, he has been credited with transforming the Marine Investigative Group into a highly formidable team.

In this role, he has personally led investigations into homicides, serious arson and organised crime-related activities, building on the Command’s excellent reputation with State and Federal investigative bodies.

He also led the investigation into the deaths of two people lost overboard from a cruise liner in 2013, earning praise along with his team from the NSW Coroner for their professional and compassionate conduct.

Employee Of The Year

Kevin Read – Lachlan Local Area Command

As an Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer, Kevin Read, has a passion for community policing.

From the Murrin Bridge Mission near Lake Cargelligo in the west to Peak Hill in the north and Forbes in the south, Kevin regularly travels up to 4,000 kilometres a month to attend community meetings and events.

Through calm negotiation, Kevin has often brought about peaceful resolution to situations, avoiding the need for arrests and protracted “man hunts.”

He has been at the forefront of Aboriginal youth diversion initiatives such as “Backtrack” and is a prominent supporter of the highly successful iProwd indigenous recruitment program.

Rotary Community Award

Inspector Robert Vergano – Shoalhaven LAC

Inspector Vergano is regarded as a respected and approachable professional within his command, with a genuine concern for his community.

He is the local facilitator for the NSW Police “Boots for the Homeless” campaign whereby officers donate their used police boots for distribution to those who need them.

In his spare time, he works as a retained fire fighter with NSW Fire and Rescue and teaches local Nippers about water safety as a volunteer lifeguard.

In two separate bike rides over almost 1200 kilometres last year, Inspector Vergano also raised thousands of dollars for a children’s cancer charity and Police Legacy.

In addition, last month Inspector Vergano participated in the gruelling Fire Fighters Climb for Motor Neurone Disease, a fund-raising race up 98 floors of Sydney Tower.

IJ Community-based Policing Award (Sworn)

Senior Constable Daniel Greef – Lachlan Local Area Command

Senior Constable Greef’s work as Crime Prevention Officer has seen him achieve breakthroughs in areas such as youth welfare, cyber crime and teen bullying.

But it is his efforts towards preventing Domestic Violence that have caught the attention of the communities within the Lachlan Shire.

Senior Constable Greef is an active member of the Lachlan Shire Domestic Violence Committee and has helped to promote an anti-violence project called, “Little Towns, Big Voices.”

As part of that project, Senior Constable Greef has had a primary role in the production of a related DV educational film, now featured in regional film festivals and possibly destined for screening in Australian schools and within communities across New Zealand and Asia.

IJ Community-based Policing Award (Unsworn)

This is the second category won by ACLO, Kevin Read, of Lachlan Local Area Command, at this year’s awards.

It is the first time a police employee has triumphed in two categories in the same year.

Kevin’s work with indigenous communities within his command is exemplary.

As mentioned, he is a strong supporter of the Police Force’s iPROWD program and often drives students from remote areas to Dubbo to participate in the initiative.

He is regarded as a mentor to junior staff and indigenous youth and Kevin is a major contributor at inter-LAC policing operations such as the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Bathurst 1000 and the NARLA Aboriginal football tournament.

Commissioner’s Customer Service Excellence Award

Detective Senior Constable Martin Gampe – Mid North Coast Local Area Command

A 32 year veteran of the Police Force, Senior Constable Gampe has performed General Duties, worked at Crash Investigation and Criminal Investigations in Sydney and the Mid North Coast.

A mentor to junior officers and a comfort to victims of crime, he personifies outstanding customer service and dedication to duty whilst maintaining an excellent arrest rate and work ethic.

Senior Constable Gampe extended his personal support to a family over the loss of their two-year-old girl last year.

As a mark of his compassion, he presented the family with a glass collage in memory of their child on Christmas Eve.

Rotary Clubs of NSW Volunteer in Policing

Barry Gwyther – Monaro Local Area Command

Barry Gwyther quickly won over staff when he started as a Volunteer In Policing at Queanbeyan Police Station in 2014.

Regarded as a self-starter and a respectful gentleman, Barry regularly assists the Crime Prevention Officer; the Education Development Officer; and the Command’s Protocol section with their duties.

Barry maintains the Command Post bus to the highest order, cooks station barbeques for hungry staff; assists with community work at local schools and maintains historical and ceremonial policing displays within the station.

To quote his Commander, “I wish we had another two or three VIP’s like Barry. “He is a living example of the motto of the service, ‘Above Self.’

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