OPINION: Police lives lost need to be a reminder
If you're a regular reader, you'll know I like to write about fun stuff, daggy dad things and silly adventures. That's what you get from me most of the time, but you'd also know that now and then I get deadly serious about safety.
This is one of those moments. There is very little joy in my heart after seeing the events that unfolded on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway last Wednesday when 4 police were killed on duty.
It's been almost 14 years since I left the Queensland Police. But the bond of the badge is stronger than mere things like time or state borders.
It left my wife and I shocked and speechless. We were both physically shaken. My body felt weak and my thoughts were instantly and completely clouded by grief. It was shock. Pure and simple.
I can remember feeling the same way every time I have heard similar news. This was honestly worse. In all likelihood, 4 times worse.
It was always drummed into me constantly to be ever vigilant when performing traffic stops. There were things you did that made this highly risky manoeuvre safer. Never standing between vehicles. Creating a "corridor of safety". Standing away from your parked cars. Always keeping one eye on approaching vehicles. All the while having to stay "tactically aware" just in case the normal looking person you pulled up for some relatively minor thing turned out to be an armed robber on the run from the law.
If you'll notice I said doing that stuff was to make the stop "safer", not safe. It's almost impossible to eliminate every risk. Especially when cars are travelling at 100km/hr. Let alone heavy vehicles.
I knew we were taught those things for very good reasons. I've seen examples. And frankly, it doesn't matter who you are. Just ask any truckie, tow truck driver, traffic controller or road worker.
Some of the most shocking ones I remember include -
1998 when Aussie golfer, Stuart Appleby's wife, Renay, was killed when crushed between 2 cars whilst removing luggage from one cars boot.
A colleague and first female officer killed on duty. Constable Sondra Lena, killed on the Bruce Highway in 1992, at a roadblock.
I will also never forget the death of a mother and father on the Sunshine Coast who had gone to assist their daughter after she'd been in a minor bingle on the highway. They were hit by a 4wd shortly after arriving at the scene. The daughter made a statement I will never forget. She had seen them "taken to heaven."
It just goes to show who you are and that no matter what else is going on in your life, or in the world around you for that matter, road safety is something that needs to be front and centre in your mind.
Road safety doesn't care about COVID-19. Delayed footy season starts or missed Easter vacations.
It's real and ready to bite at any time. Stay safe.