After 10 years watching over a police command, spanning over almost 75 per cent of the state, Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechniehas officially called it a day.
Following a long and distinguished career which has seen him climb to the senior ranks of NSW Police, Mr McKechnie sat down with Australian Community Media to reflect on his 33-year career.
It began while working in Dunedoo, when friends convinced Mr McKechnie to apply to NSW police in 1988.
"There was a couple of local police officers there at the time, that I had a bit to do with through different things, and they convinced me to throw in an application and that's how it started," he said.
After completing his training at the Police Academy, his first posting was in Gilgandra, before he transferred to the detectives office at Dubbo in 1990.
He spent eight years in the detective's office, before he went west to Broken Hill as the detective sergeant.
Three years later he was promoted to superintendent.
"Broken Hill was probably where I had some of my most enjoyable times in the job, I really liked it out there and still like getting out there as well," he said.
Later he transferred to Orange for three years as the district commander, then went to the Central Coast where he was the commander at Tuggerah Lakes for three years before moving to Gosford as the commander.
In 2011 he returned to the region, where he was given the top job as Western Region Commander in 2012 - where he's been for the last 10 years.
"It's changed quite a bit over the 10 years," he said.
Mr McKechnie has watched over a police command spanning almost 75 per cent of the state, had seven superintendents report to him and been responsible for 1400 police officers and almost 150 unsworn staff.
He said while distance sometimes makes things challenging, the western region was one of the best places in the state.
"It's a great area of the state because there's a lot of places where there's a real sense of community, people still care about each other," he said.
"It's the variety of the work I think that makes it really interesting as well.
"You've got the five regional cities down the eastern side of region, Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo, Tamworth and Armidale that have the same problems as any other city.
"Working from those city-type problems, social disadvantage, homelessness, drug use to getting out into those far flung locations around emergency management, stock theft and missing people and searching, so there's been such a wide variety of work across the region. I think that's what makes it really, really attractive."
If anyone's scarified its been my family. It's always been about me really so it's time to turn that aroundGeoff McKechnie
He also admitted Tibooburra was his favourite place in the region.
"I really enjoy just getting out there and I love that back country and the sky at night, White Cliffs and the stars up there, it's just a beautiful part of the world," he said.
After more than three decades with NSW Police, Mr McKechnie has been involved with a variety of roles.
From working on things like APEC and World Youth Day, to working with the Indian National Police Academy and leading police in assisting with the sinking of the HMAS Adelaide battleship off the coast of Terrigal in 2011.
Even establishing the Rural Crime Prevention Team across regional NSW in 2018, which he said was one of his major achievements.
However during his career, he said it was detective work and the serious crimes he helped investigate, which was where he achieved most.
"I look back on some of those big investigations and working as part of a team and working really hard to solve a crime, I really enjoyed that part of the work," he said.
"If I've got one regret about my career it's that I didn't do more of that ... I think that's where you achieve the most, particularly with murders and things like that.
"We're representing the person that's died, and we have to do everything we can to get that person's perspective across, and obviously look after their family during the process, so I do quite think about those jobs quite often."
Over the years, he said it was technology which changed the most in the police force, recalling some of his first tasks on the job - which included distributing messages from the telex.
"That's how the information came through, once a day you got this update from Sydney of stolen cars, this and that. Then you had to note that in your notebook and write it all down," he said.
"Now I can find out anything I need about what's going on off my phone, so that's amazing. Who knows what the next 33 years will bring."
If there's one thing Mr McKechnie would say to younger generations of police officers, it would be to "treat people the way you'd like to be treated yourself".
"If you're going to a job, particularly difficult jobs, I've always tried to treat people as I'd want my mother, wife or son treated," he said.
"Ultimately we are all about helping people, that's what it comes down to for me, and I think if you always keep that in mind you'll get a lot out of it."
I look back on some of those big investigations and working as part of a team and working really hard to solve a crime, I really enjoyed that part of the workGeoff McKechnie
While he said he made the decision with a heavy heart, its the people he will miss most.
"The work is good and sometimes challenging, but for me it will be about the people that we work with," he said.
"There's a great comradery and team feeling that there is around the police. It's not like any other job or organisation, there's a real sense of belonging to something."
In retirement, the Dubbo local said he plans to hit the open road.
"I'm going to try to breed some better quality cattle," he said. "Then I'm going to ride the wheels off my motorcycle, and I'm going to tour around in a caravan.
"Another aspect of policing is you make friends all over the world and I've got people I want to catch up with all around the place. Travel is going to be a big one."
He also said after 33 years, it was time to give back to his family, planning to spend time with his first grandchild born in August.
"If anyone's scarified its been my family," he said.
"It's always been about me really so it's time to turn that around."
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