Superintendent Sue Waites signs off
Superintendent Susan Waites recently retired after 30 years of dedicated service to the NSW Police Force. Sue’s Policing career has been filled with many highlights, from her rise within the ranks to her involvement as the Chairperson of Police Legacy.
What was it about the Police Force that made you want to join?
I actually joined the NSW Police Force in 1982 at the age of 19.
Whilst I was in High School I was considering being either a Teacher or a Police Officer. One of my neighbours was a Policeman who told me some stories about policing which appealed to me.
Starting in the Force as a young female officer were there any challenges you had to overcome?
When I joined women had to undertake the same training as the men. I remember my Training Instructor, the legendary Sergeant Brian ‘Chicka’ Moore, telling me that no special dispensation would be given to the women. I was lucky that I was somewhat of a natural athlete and was able to complete all of the physical requirements without having to experience Sgt Moore yelling at me!
I was fortunate to perform General Duties like my male counterparts which gave me a good grounding in basic police duties. As an insight as to how women were viewed, we were recorded on the daily roster sheet with an ‘F’ for female after our surname. Nevertheless I took the attitude that I had to prove that I was able to perform my duties to the same level as men.
On a lighter note, I remember being with a Senior Constable who had a personality larger than life. He was asked by a citizen to explain the various positions within the Police Force. He commenced with the Commissioner worked downwards through the ranks to Sergeant, Senior Constable, First Class Constable, Probationary Constable and even to the Police Horse and Police Dog. He then looked at me and with a big laugh said ‘Police Woman’! It was taken in good humour and in reality was not reflective of the positioning at the time. Nevertheless it’s a funny story to highlight how far the profile of women has positively advanced.
After a few years working General Duties, I planned out what I wanted to do in my career. I studied Business Management at TAFE for 3 years and then completed a Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations at University.
We understand you met your husband Bob in the Police Force?
Yes I met my husband when I started at Hornsby Police Station. Bob at the time was attached to Pennant Hills. Then I was a 3 year Constable and Bob was a Senior Constable. We had similar interests such as bush walking, squash, windsurfing and snow skiing. Sharing a passion for policing and supporting each other was very positive.
My step-children are grown up now and are both Police Officers which makes Bob and I very proud that hopefully we have been good role models.
What roles/positions in the NSW Police Force have you been in? And which did you find the most rewarding?
During my career I felt it was important to be exposed to various aspects of policing. This helped me in gaining a better organisational perspective and allowed for new skills to be learnt. As mentioned I started in General Duties and worked in other areas such as Education and Training, the Royal Commission Response Unit, Human Resources, Duty Officer, Staff Officer and Local Area Commander (Superintendent) at Holroyd, The Hills and Kings Cross.
There must have been challenges with the Kings Cross Command that you were in charge of up to your retirement. What were some of the issues that makes this Command challenging?
Kings Cross is a great Command with a very diverse community from drug addicts, drug dealers, sex workers, organised crime, outlaw motor cycle gangs, homeless people and upper class areas with celebrities and multi-millionaires.
From Monday to Friday the area is relatively quiet with well run restaurants and cafes. However Kings Cross is also the late night entertainment centre of Australia with over 130 licensed venues. Alcohol related crime is a huge issue with recent unfortunate examples of senseless alcohol related violence.
The staff at Kings Cross Police Station work as a big team. There have been many high profile crimes in the area and Kings Cross Police have obtained great results due to their determination and professional attitude to bring offenders to justice.
You’ve had a really involved career in the NSW Police Force, but you have also had a strong association with NSW Police Legacy?
Police Legacy commenced in 1987. I remember going to a meeting in that same year chaired by Deputy Commissioner Barney Ross to establish a Constitution. The organisation has grown over the years, reflective of the passion and hard work by many people. Police Legacy has made a positive difference to many lives and I’m glad I have been able to contribute.
No doubt liaising with the families of fallen Officers really reinforces the dangers of police work and the tremendous sacrifice they make in protecting our community?
Every day when a Police Officer goes to work they are putting their life on the line to protect the community. They never know what job they will be attending or who they will be dealing with.
Unfortunately some Officers make the ultimate sacrifice. The impact on their families is significant, their lives are shattered and changed forever. Police Legacy ensures these Officers will never be forgotten and that their family will feel supported.
You and Bob have been great supporters of the annual Children’s Police Legacy Camps.
Yes the Camps allow the children to form lifelong friendships with other children in similar situations without having to feel that they are different. The children are able to talk openly about the issues impacting on them and they support each other during hard times in their lives. It has been great to see the children grow up into adults who are well balanced and are contributing to society
Thanks to everyone who donates to Police Legacy including the Police Bank and the Police Association.
What will retirement bring for you and Bob, any plans?
As well as spending time with family and friends, we aim to do some travelling around Australia and various parts of the world. Life is precious and needs to be enjoyed! We will still be involved with Police Legacy wherever possible.