Women in QPS: Investigating cold case homicides

To celebrate International Women’s Day, this week we will be looking at women within the Queensland Police Service (QPS) who inspire, empower and succeed in their roles.

Within the Homicide Group is the Cold Case Investigation Team (CCIT), who is tasked with providing special investigative and intelligence support to the investigation of homicides and suspicious long-term missing persons investigations.

The CCIT reviews cold case investigations assisting in identifying, arresting and convicting the offender/s responsible.

Leading this team of 12 investigators, three forensic officers, two intelligence officers and six administration officers, is Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell.

Detective Senior Sergeant Kentwell joined the QPS in February 1991. After a three-and-a-half-year stint in Cairns as a frontline officer, she joined the Crime and Intelligence Command in a range of different areas including child abuse, drug squad, corrective services, covert and the homicide investigation unit.

Detective Senior Sergeant Kentwell’s team meticulously reviews thousands of pages of case notes, statements, photographs and exhibits to find avenues for further investigation and to discover new information that will lead to breakthroughs and the eventual solving and closure of the case.

Since forming in 2017, the CCIT actively reviews cases, dating back to 1952, and has resulted in 10 arrests and referring several investigations to the State Coroner for consideration.

When asked about what a regular day as the Officer in Charge of CCIT is, Detective Senior Sergeant Kentwell said that no day was ever the same.

“One day we could be arresting offenders, searching crime scenes with State Emergency Service or locating and interviewing original investigating police and witnesses,” Detective Senior Sergeant Kentwell said.

“The next day could be spent sitting in the office completing paperwork or reviewing boxes and boxes of exhibits and evidence.”

When asked to give advice to anyone considering a detective career, she said that being part of a team involved in the prosecution of a person responsible for a serious offence such as murder is very rewarding.

“In Queensland, there are no statutes of limitation for murder, so every homicide case remains open until it is solved,” Detective Senior Sergeant Kentwell said.

“It is an incredible journey to be on to watch investigations progress as a result of teamwork and new ideas and be able to provide closure to families and communities affected by cold case homicides.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Kentwell admitted that there were some challenges to the role.

“The most difficult part of my job is searching for answers and not being able to find closure for all families and friends when you desperately want to,” she said.

“To succeed in this role, you must have patience, problem solving skills and the ability to go outside of your comfort zone.

“I strongly encourage anyone interested in becoming a detective to take on the challenge.”

QPS officers have shared their journey to help inspire Queenslanders to take a close look at a policing career when considering their potential profession.

For more information on police recruiting, please visit policerecruit.com.au.

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