After almost 45 years in Queensland Police Service (QPS), Inspector Brendan Keleher is proudly passing the service baton to his son Police Recruit Timothy Keleher, who will be inducted into the QPS tomorrow.
While Recruit Keleher had an established career as a carpenter, specialising in Workplace Health and Safety, he has always felt inspired by the work of his father, who is less than a year away from retiring from the Service.
“Watching my dad going to work and serve the community with such pride definitely aligned me to wanting a career that could give me such satisfaction,” Recruit Keleher said.
“My dad never pushed me to a career in the police but accepted any job prospect that I wanted to pursue, but each job title I held left me wanting to have that same satisfaction my dad had with the added pride of helping the community.”
Now graduating after six months at the police academy, Recruit Keleher said not only had he enjoyed the overall experience, but that his father always had a keen interest in what he was learning.
“We have some great teachers and lecturers here at the academy which has made this a great experience,” he said.
“Although we are only training, they have tried to make our scenario-based learning as real as possible.”
Recruit Keleher said his training has not been without his challenges; as he and his partner were expecting their second child while he was at the academy.
“This was a challenging period as I was learning new skills such as firearms, driver and accoutrements training and welcoming a new baby,” he said.
While Recruit Keleher faces his challenges, he said the best part of his experience was the comradery within his squad.
“Squad 147 came to the academy as individuals, but we will march out together as family,” he said.
“At each moment whether bad or good squad 147 had each other’s back for support.”
Recruit Keleher made special mention of his facilitator Ms Edwards who he described as “the pillar of the squad”.
“She was always making sure that we are okay and each person’s individual needs were taken care of.
“Ms Edwards’ knowledge coupled with our Sergeant Matt Russell (now Acting Senior Sergeant) made sure that Squad 147 was prepared for each assessment.
“I believe Ms Edwards and Senior Sergeant Russell have moulded Squad 147 into the best possible Constable to be released into active service for the Queensland Police Service.”
Recruit Keleher and the rest of his successful cohort will officially enter the Service as First Year Constables tomorrow afternoon.
For the new officers, their recruiting process has been very different to the experience Inspector Keleher had 45 years ago.
“I finished school at the end of Senior (Grade 10) and wanted to be a bricklayer,” Inspector Keleher said.
“I had moved to Brisbane from Maleny and put in for a few different jobs but I was only 15, so very young. I saw a recruiting officer from the police and said ‘where do I sign up, mate?’
“I had a chest x-ray and an eye test and that was basically it.”
When Inspector Keleher joined the academy he was just 15-years-old, which meant he could not be sworn in as an officer immediately after he graduated. Instead, he was given a Graduate Cadet security pass until he turned 19 and was able to be sworn in.
Over the past 45 years, Inspector Keleher has been stationed in many parts of Queensland, from Cairns the Far North, Mount Isa in the West and Dalby in the Southern end of the state.
Not only has Inspector Keleher worked in many parts of Queensland, but his extensive portfolio includes various task-forces and commands including the Air Wing, water police and forensic services.
Inspector Keleher’s true passion is in forensics, which he said played a significant role in all police work.
“I love catching crooks, I’m still as passionate now as when I started,” he said.
“If I’m not there to make the arrest, I want to make sure it gets done right.”
Inspector Keleher said his experience as a watch house keeper in both Mount Isa and Cairns had given him an understanding of some of the challenges faced by officers in the more remote parts of the state, especially in relation to gathering forensics-related information.
Inspector Keleher worked with the team who developed an almost instantaneous fingerprint analysis system, providing relevant fingerprint identifications to wherever it’s needed across Queensland.
“I understood the need for a faster fingerprint analysis process, because there were instances where a person would be released from custody before the fingerprint analysis was returned to the watch house, and it would turn out they were possibly involved in other criminal activity,” he said.
“Now within a minute, that information will be back with the watch house keeper. It’s an incredible system that has broken the tyranny of distance in forensic analysis.”
Looking back on his 45-year-long career, Inspector Keleher said his role in Operation Midas was one of the key moments in his time as a police officer.
In May 2003, the task-force known as Operation Midas lead to the arrest of Francis John Fahey; a former paramedic convicted of murdering two Brisbane women.
“A lot of good detective work went into that investigation, a lot of long hours,” he said.
“The outcome really showed the power of forensics.”
When asked how he felt about his son joining the Service, Inspector Keleher said he was beyond proud.
“Timothy will make a great police officer. He’s been training for it his whole life, pretty well,” he said.
“He’s got an exciting career ahead of him, that’s for sure.”
Inspector Keleher will be Recruit Keleher’s Commissioned Officer at the graduation tomorrow, and will be the one to swear his son into the Service.