Veteran police, leaders honoured in Australia Day awards

A 50-year veteran who has dedicated his career to getting justice for victims, a highly respected Homicide Squad detective and a champion for the protection of children are among Victoria Police members honoured in the Australia Day honours.

Eight police have been awarded the Australian Police Medal this year.

It recognises distinguished service by a member of the force.

Sgt Sydney Rudd-Schmidt, who runs the Seymour Prosecutions Unit, has served with Victoria Police for an extraordinary 50 years. He worked in uniform policing in Melbourne, Euroa and Seymour for 21 years before being appointed officer in charge of Seymour prosecutions in1994 where his integrity and extensive knowledge of the law is crucial in overseeing some 300 police informants at 25 police units. A long-serving magistrate once stated Sgt Rudd-Schmidt was on an equal footing with any lawyer who presented before them.

Detective Sen-Sgt Mark Colbert has been on the frontline of policing for his entire 34-year career, serving in both the Missing Persons Squad and Homicide Squad. He is one of Australia most respected and experienced homicide, coronial, terrorism and serious and organised crime investigators. He has also served overseas including with the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands and the United Nations Special Court for war crimes in Sierra Leone.

Sgt Simon Fogarty, a police officer for 26 years, was key in the creation of a dedicated unit which responds to online child sexual abuse. A person of integrity and courage, Sgt Fogarty in 2005 became involved in the policing of crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. He is recognised as an international expert in the investigation of online child sexual abuse, last year receiving a commendation from the United States’ Department of Homeland Security for his collaborative and innovative lead in investigations of online sexual abuse against children across several countries.

Supt Janet Stevenson’s ethical leadership was instrumental in the establishment of a specialist unit to proactively address family violence perpetrators within Victoria Police. The Sexual Offences and Family Violence Unit, based within the force’s Professional Standards Command, is the first of its kind in Australia. Supt Stevenson, who has served for 34 years, is also chair of the Women in Policing Advisory Group having first-hand knowledge of the challenges women have faced and the harm some women have suffered over their policing journey.

Commander Martin O’Brien is a tireless investigator and strategic leader having worked in general duties, road policing, investigative and leadership roles during this 42-year career. He created Victoria Police’s Gang Crime Squad which continues to deliver significant disruption of organised crime and oversaw the implementation of new prohibition orders banning criminals from possessing firearms. Commander O’Brien also established a taskforce which arrested more than 25 outlaw motorcycle gang members involved in serious crime.

Insp Marnie Johnstone is passionate about victims of gendered harm and trauma being afforded dignity, respect and support. She has held senior roles overseeing the investigation of family violence, sex crimes and other criminal matters. Her policing experience in family violence and sexual offence investigation in particular has contributed to a significant uplift in the provision of victim-centric service delivery to the community.

Detective Leading Sen-Constable Paul Roberts has dedicated his 37-year career to crime investigation, going above and beyond to achieve strong outcomes for victims and maintaining a high arrest rate during his time at Frankston Crime Investigation Unit. He has conducted numerous complex investigations into serious and organised crime and helped hundreds of junior police achieve permanent positions as detectives through his guidance and leadership.

Leading Sen-Constable Linda McLennan has demonstrated outstanding service to Victoria Police and the Horsham community across 41 years. Her work alongside community groups, schools, government agencies and local councils has been essential in tackling crime and community issues through her proactive and educative approach. Leading Sen-Constable McLennan promotes the value of diversity through her relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse communities across the Wimmera and has excelled as a youth resource officer with her calm, diligent and methodical approach.

Quotes attributable to Shane Patton, Chief Commissioner:

“These police go about their duties day in, day out without seeking recognition or acknowledgement.

“That is why it is all the more special to see them recognised in this way.

“Each has demonstrated commitment, passion and diligence in their chosen fields.

“There is no doubt they have made a difference in building the safety, trust and confidence of the Victorian community.”

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