ON Monday, September 18, Port Macquarie Senior Constable Gary Bates will celebrate 30 years of service for NSW Police.
He started training at Goulburn academy on June 28, 1987, at the age of 18. He attested successfully on September 18 of the same year and was posted to Blacktown.
Snr Cons Bates transferred to highway patrol soon after, and served four years at Grafton before eventually being posted out west to Ashford, near the Queensland border, as a lock up keeper.
Years later he would be transferred to Kempsey for two years in general duties, then back to highway patrol duties in Port Macquarie 13 years ago where he remains today.
“It’s a great area to work, and an ever increasing place to work with the population growing,” he said.
So why become a police officer? After all, he had aspirations to be a train driver while in high school.
“Growing up in Western Sydney, in Mount Druitt, I had a lot of school friends who needed police help and others who were dealt with by police for varying reasons,” he explained.
“That sort of thing interested me from a young age. Wearing the uniform and helping people appealed to me at a young age, and putting those who shouldn’t be helped before the courts.”
His tough initiation as a young police officer included plenty of fatalities, domestic violence and street crime in Blacktown.
Wearing the uniform and helping people appealed to me at a young age, and putting those who shouldn’t be helped before the courts.
“It was one of the busiest divisions in NSW at the time. Having said that a lot of the crew were young and it was all hands on deck when you have to work hard,” he said.
“It was a different type of policing back then. The core values have remained the same but the technology plays a big part and is a big plus. I find in my current position it has helped me do my job better.”
The stand out in Snr Cons Bates’ 30 year career was November, 2000, when floods rocked the small town of Ashford.
“We had major floods that were unprecedented for that area,” he said.
“We were recalled in the middle of the night. We had to man a lifeboat, go out and check and rescue a lot of people.
“That was a very confronting situation and a very dangerous situation. We received a bravery award for that. It was a highlight for me as a police officer and in search and rescue.”
Snr Cons Bates is also an accomplished pilot, flying light aircraft and also kayaking and riding bikes often.
It made it all the more confronting when he was one of the first on the scene at the recent plane crash in Port Macquarie.
On the Mid North Coast, the overwhelming majority of motorists are good, decent drivers who do the right thing, according to Snr Cons Bates.
“As a highway patrol officer, we want to deal with the small minority that do the wrong thing by the law,” he said.
“On average, speeding motorists don’t seem to speed as much as they once did. That’s one observation of many from myself.
“What concerns me is modified vehicles from our young drivers. They overly modify their vehicles and puts themselves and other road users at risk.”
His fulfilling career has had more positives than negatives and he plans to stay here in Port Macquarie policing for a while yet.
“My two younger children, Riley and Noah, are still at school and My wife Vicki and I have no plans to leave. I have another 11 years to go until I can retire,” he said.
“The 30 years have passed quicker than what I would have imagined, especially the last 10 years.”
He also has two older daughters – Kayla and Maddison. He said he is immensely proud of his daughters.
Kayla is pursuing a nursing career and Maddison is in RAAF at 34 Squadron Canberra.
“I’m so proud that they going into careers that help people and defend our country.”