Longest serving NSW Police officer reflects on career before retirement

After nearly 60 years of service with the NSW Police Force, Senior Sergeant John Thompson is ready to call time on his distinguished career.

The decorated officer – who began as a 17-year-old police cadet in Redfern in 1962 before being officially sworn in on his 19th birthday – started his long service leave on Friday (15 May 2020) and will officially retire from the force in January 2023.

Senior Sergeant Thompson will retire after 61 years; making him the longest-serving police officer in NSW.

But his connection with the NSW Police Force started well before that – he was born at Gulargambone Police Station in 1944.

His father, uncle and great-grandfather also served as police officers – his great-grandfather, Sub Inspector John Carroll, arrested Andrew George Scott (also known as Captain Moonlight the Bushranger) in Gundagai back in 1879.

“I had a lifetime in the cops – it is in my blood,” Snr Sgt Thompson said.

“I’ve enjoyed the job and the people I’ve worked with; they’ve all been warm and supporting. But I’ve seen the bad things too. I was at Parramatta in 1971 when a call came over about people causing trouble.

“By the time we got there, Sergeant Bill Riley and Sergeant Maurie McDiarmid were sadly shot dead in Toongabbie. That’s something I’ll never forget,” Snr Sgt Thompson said.

“I’ve seen people at their highest and at their lowest. We used to put people from all walks of life in the back of the truck. I’ve seen the worst of people – and I’ve seen the best of people. There’s a lot of good people in the community who look up to police.”

Snr Sgt Thompson started as a probationary constable at Parramatta Police Station and has worked in various commands across the force, including Chatswood, Surry Hills, and Police Transport Branch.

He also worked the 21 Division, where he served with his father, Senior Sergeant Ross Thompson. The 21 Division was the training ground for the Criminal Investigations Branch for many years until its disbandment.

During his career, he has been awarded the NSW Police medal, the National Police Service Medal, the National Medal as well as clasps, and the 150th NSW Police Force Anniversary medal.

He also received a letter of thanks for his service from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge following their visit to Australia in 2014.

For the last 20 years of his career, Snr Sgt Thompson has worked in the State Planning Unit at major events across the state, including New Year’s Eve, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Bathurst 1000, and the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

His last arrest was three years ago while working at the New Year’s Eve celebrations for an alleged aggravated robbery.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller praised Snr Sgt Thompson for all his years of service.

“We and the people of NSW thank Senior Sergeant Thompson for spending sixty years of his life helping the community,” Commissioner Fuller said.

“He is an amazing police officer and a thoroughly decent man, and we wish him all the best in the next phase of retirement.”

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