A Committed Officer Takes The Exit Ramp

THE sight of the apparently unflappable senior policeman giving calm television updates as the state burnt provided just a measure of reassurance as we faced our greatest natural disaster.

On Black Saturday, and in the days and weeks that followed, Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe was the front man, running the police response, from initial evacuation to the grim process of identifying victims.

Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe announced his retirement from Victoria Police, ending 44 years of service to the force ...
Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe announced his retirement from Victoria Police, ending 44 years of service to the force and the community, effective from the 1st of July this year. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

With the death toll by late Saturday standing at 16, he knew it would get ''much worse'', but no one could have imagined the count would rise to 173.

Much has been said about then chief commissioner Christine Nixon choosing to head to a North Melbourne pub for a meal on the night of February 7, 2009, as Victoria burned.

But little has been said about how Walshe ran the emergency operation, providing strong leadership for police out in the carnage and a measured tone for the community trying to come to terms with an event almost beyond imagination.

What few knew at the time was that, behind the carefully constructed professional facade, the deputy commissioner was in turmoil as - like so many - he had been touched by those fires.

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Source : http://www.smh.com.au/national/a-committed-officer-takes-the-exit-ramp-20120622-20tdl.html

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