I write this book in dedication to, and in the memory of the late Gregory Michael Jackson. Jacko was a fantastic police officer whom I had the pleasure of working with at Cabramatta and Bourke Police Stations. He was a true gentleman who loved and adored his friends, family and work mates. He had one of the most fun loving personalities one could ever encounter with a special way of making the average Joe Blow feel safe and welcome once in his presence. Jacko was a man who was loved and spoken about far and wide, and without doubt a tremendous mate of mine and many others WHETHER HE LIKES IT OR NOT.
Rarely does one get an insight into the world of a police
officer as recounted in Paul Horner’s book. Paul’s story is one of a childhood
dream, of shattered illusions, a life out of control, trauma, and ultimately of
healing. You, like many other Australians who have a fascination for law and
order in our society, will find this both an informative and emotionally
touching read. A human story of the person behind the uniform.
I first met Paul when he was admitted to the private
psychiatric clinic at which I have worked for the past ten years as a
psychologist. My work focuses on patients suffering from post traumatic stress
disorders (PTSD), as well as other anxiety and mood disorders, and
substance-abuse issues. Paul had been admitted as an in-patient to deal with
issues related to all of the above. Upon discharge from the hospital, I
continued to see Paul in my private practice.
Paul’s story comes at a time when understanding mental
health issues and the impact they have on individuals, families and the
community, are evermore important. Police today are regularly in the spotlight
of the media, often putting their lives on the line, having to be accountable
for their actions, what is less in the spotlight is the accountability of the
systems within the Police Force to protect its members from suffering the
impacts of this high-risk work.
Through this story Paul systematically and engagingly takes
us through the world of policing on the front line weaving together both the
highs and lows of this life from a very personal and brutally honest
His journey of recovery from this has been a long and at
times arduous ordeal, I have witnessed Paul go through the depths of despair,
relapsing into his old patterns of coping with excessive drinking, confronting
his traumatic memories, gradually working through them and dealing with the
trials of extricating himself from a life he didn’t want to let go of. He has
had periods of highs, only to sink into deep depressions again. We have gone
through this cycle many times over the past few years.
I have talked on many occasions with Paul about publishing
this book and I know his hopes are that people will read this not only to gain
an insight into PTSD and the pressures police are under, but to prompt action
within the NSW Police Force, to highlight the need for better support for police
officers, to prevent others from engaging in self-destructive behaviours, to
encourage change within a profession he still admires and grieves over.
Paul is now rebuilding his life, he still has the
occasional nightmare and will still have flashbacks, but he now has the courage
and skills to manage these times. He is building a new career for himself and
his family and relies on his own ability to cope rather than using alcohol.
Philippa Kelly BSc (Psych), Grad Dip (Psych)
I have wanted to be a cop
since I was a toddler. I’ll never forget as a young child seeing a motorbike on
the street and saying to my dad, “When I grow up I want to be a policeman and
ride a motorbike.” Little did I know that this dream (at least half of it) would
one day become a reality.
As I got older my desire to
become a police officer had not changed however, my reasoning behind it did. I
have always been an active person who loves sport, physical and mental
challenges, and loves to spend much of my time outdoors. Further to this I have
a real dislike for ‘bullies’ and people that stand over others for personal gain
either physical or emotional. I have always gained a personal satisfaction in
helping people and am a firm believer that everyone has the right to happiness
without having to live in fear.
I completed Year Eleven at
school prior to entering the workforce therefore failing to obtain my higher
school certificate (HSC). I was aware it was a requirement to have the HSC in
order to be accepted into the New South Wales (NSW) Police so I looked at other
areas of employment, at least initially.
I started out by joining the
Navy as a Quarter Master Gunner at 18 years of age. I absolutely hated it and
was granted a discharge on compassionate grounds prior to my completion of basic
Once arriving home to St
Unfortunately for me I was cut from the squad two weeks prior to the competition starting and was advised to ‘beef up a bit’.
After intense weights
training at the gym I piled on 7kg within several months reading 79kg. During
this time I played with the local St Mary’s A-Reserve grade and A-Grade squads
in 1993 where I was later advised that my playing ability and form throughout
the season had drawn the attention of the Penrith selectors and I was set to
return to representative football within a matter of weeks. I was out to impress
the selectors the following day during a clash with local rivals Blacktown City
however, fell victim to a vicious tackle which left me with four fractures to my
neck and back. That was the end of my football career, at least for the next
I later commenced employment
with Woolworths where I was eventually offered a casual position with Macs
Liquor. I worked my way into the position of Assistant Manager prior to being
promoted to Manager. In 1995 there was a great deal of conflict between
Woolworths and Macs Liquor which assisted me in my decision to make a career
I worked as a prison officer for the NSW Corrective Services posted to Parramatta Jail for 12 months when I made a decision to join the cops.
Although I didn’t have my
HSC, my work experience at that stage was enough to be accepted into the NSW
Police commencing training at the
Whilst serving as a prison officer I applied to both the Northern Territory (NT) and the NSW Police. The NT was my first choice as I had a desire to work and live out bush. I liked the fact that the NT Police was also involved in fisheries in addition to standard policing duties.
As it turned out the NSW Police gave me the golden opportunity first hence I seized it with both hands and was fortunate enough to be accepted.
PART A: – (Read a
(Read a sample)
It was a hot day on Sunday 16 February 1997 as I made my way to the NSW Police Academy Goulburn to commence my lifelong career as a police officer. I drove down in my sporty red Holden Barina with both the air conditioner and the radio pumping for the two hours from St Mary’s to Goulburn.
In my possession I had my bag, my glove box full of lollies, my $3,000 cash I had saved, coupled with my pride and aspirations of being a good police officer.
Upon arrival I checked in
through the Safety and Security front office where I was given my room key to
one of the older residential blocks to the academy where I dragged my gear up
three flights of stairs and set up base for the next six months in order to be
trained as a cop.
I quickly sorted out my belongings and got myself up to the bar where it all happens in order to meet the other unsuspecting candidates and try and get to know a few people prior to induction day on Monday 17 February 1997.
Whilst at the bar I met
several people I previously knew including Christine (school), Mark (social
touch footy) and Jason (St Mary’s Rugby League side). I had no idea that they
had even applied to the police yet alone gone to the academy. I was so excited
that I actually knew a few people there and was looking forward to the future.
The next day consisted of introductory lectures involving the logistics of the academy, meeting our group lecturers, and the program that we were about to undertake. In addition we also got fitted for our uniforms and given our text/study books for the next eight weeks.
‘Phase one’ of our program included eight weeks at the academy which involved the ‘warm and fuzzy’ side of policing introducing us to very basic legislation, but more so concentrated on ethics, racial backgrounds of certain cultures and groups of people we were likely to be involved with as police, oh and more ethics.
As there were more than 300 student police in my class – Class 269, we were all divided into groups of roughly 20 – 30 persons which were named Alpha through to Zulu (the phonetic alphabet). I was placed into ‘Sub Class’ E (Echo) which is where I met two great mates, Mick and Steve (see photo page 386). To this day I still remain close to these two clowns, God bless their cotton socks.
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