THE Northern Territory’s last “three digit cop” has hung up his hat.
Katherine’s Senior Constable Keith Currie, who was the 937th police officer in the Territory when he joined the service in May 1978, retired earlier this month.
“I joined on the 15th of May, 1978,’’ Sen-Constable Currie said.
“I had just turned 19. I grew up in rural New South Wales and I was working in a bank for three years. I saw an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald for Territory police and I applied,’’ he said.
Sen-Constable Currie completed his training at the Mirambeema Centre, now a hotel, in Cavanagh Street Darwin. At the time, Territory Police were not using computers, the Fanny Bay Gaol was the only prison and the police vehicles of choice were Ford F100s, Holdens and Ford Falcon panel vans.
After a short stint in Darwin, Sen-Constable Currie embarked on his career of rural and remote policing.
“A sense of community is very important,’’ he said.
“We (police officers) are part of that community regardless of conflict we may have to deal with or certain groups.
“I’ve been honoured to work and visit some of the most remote and beautiful places in the Territory as well as meet some of the most beautiful people.’’
Among the areas Sen-Constable Currie has been stationed at over the past 38 years are: Alice Springs, Yuendumu, Tennant Creek, Avon Downs, Ali Curung, Borroloola, Kalkarindji, and Lajamanu.
Sen-Constable Currie said the key to remote policing is to earn the community’s respect and to build trust, particularly in Aboriginal communities. He said he worked hard to build a rapport with locals as well as the cattle farmers, truck drivers and other professionals in remote areas.
“With some of the social problems within the Indigenous communities, you have to gain some respect from them and engage with people to build that trust but that just makes it so special. It’s real community policing,’’ he said.
After spending most of the 1980s and 1990s in remote communities, Sen-Constable Currie and his wife, Heather, who was also a police officer, and daughter settled in Katherine in late 1998.
One of the projects he helped establish, along with Dani Mattiuzzo, was the Neighbourhood Watch Katherine group.