A new Australian Federal Police (AFP) initiative is enabling recruits to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the protection of their communities and country.
Introduced in early 2020, each AFP recruit class (police and protective service officer) will during their course attend an informal ceremony at Canberra’s National Police Memorial (NPM), the venue honouring Australian police officers who have been killed on duty or have died as a result of their duties.
The AFP’s senior chaplain, the Reverend Gayl Mills, leads a short service during which recruits read out citations of selected officers whose names appear on the memorial. Afterwards, the recruits tend to the memorial site to clean it and ensure the area maintains its dignity and sanctity. This includes polishing 798 touchstones on the wall, each with the name of a fallen officer.
“It is a chance for recruits to understand the stories of the fallen and respect the roles they each played inprotecting the community,” says Superintendent Jason Byrnes, who is in charge of AFP recruit training
“The recruits come back to the AFP College sober and appreciative of the risks that could be involved in their duties and future careers.”
Similar efforts by previous classes were on an ad-hoc basis however training schedules have now been amended to ensure every class will have the opportunity. The idea was prompted by the AFP’s Recognition, Ceremonial and Protocol Unit. The unit’s commander, Superintendent Mick Travers APM, explains:
“While some recruits have previously done this, we want to ensure every class has the opportunity to learn the history of the memorial, as well as a sense of the history of the AFP and law enforcement in Australia.”
Because of the NPM’s location in Canberra, the AFP performs a custodial role over the site, on behalf of all Australian police forces.
“This initiative will help maintain the memorial and ensure all fallen officers are remembered, while giving the recruits another opportunity to bond as a team” Superintendent Travers said.
“Seeing the 798 names, particularly those from the AFP and its predecessor organisations, brings home to the recruits that policing is a potentially dangerous profession.”