Police officers relish their roles as valued community members in rural and remote Australia.

Story By Kerry Sharp

Resilient police men and women can be found in mostly two-person stations hundreds of kilometres from their nearest towns. They often work alone, thinking outside the box, and applying sensible on-the-spot solutions to defuse potential trouble. They see the best and worst in people and most are deeply touched by the tragedy that often confronts them.
Sergeant Mick Swain was quelling a disturbance outside the Oodnadatta pub in 2008 when a young woman walked up and gave him a hug. It was a moving reminder of a sad event for the no-nonsense policeman who spends most of his time these days nabbing Stuart Highway speedsters and interstate baddies, or rescuing wayward travellers. The woman’s baby had died in a car crash on the Oodnadatta Track a year earlier and local policeman Mick attended the scene. “I picked the little girl up from the roadside, wrapped her in a blanket and gave her back to her Mum,” he says. “We do what we can to make things better and don’t expect gratitude, but it’s pretty satisfying to find you’ve touched someone’s life and they remember you.” He was still at the scene early the next day when local station people drove up with ‘Bush Maccas’– bacon, eggs and steaming hot coffee. “It’s that sort of thing that makes remote policing so special,” he says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #100

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2015