150 years of the thin blue line
LED BY the NSW Police Band, there were police on horseback and motorbikes, two sniffer dogs, rows of marching police officers, the Rescue Squad, highway patrol cars and hanging out of a van, members of the Tactical Response Group, their identities hidden behind black jumpsuits and goggles, with two officers at the back carrying machine guns.
If not for the jolly strains of The Road to Gundagai being played by the band, you might have thought it was a dawn raid on a hippie commune.
In fact the impressive parade under a blue spring sky was composed of Lismore police, celebrating 150 years of policing in the town. Serving and former police officers gathered at the Brown's Creek car park and walked the length of Molesworth Street, cheered on by masses of well wishers and waving back at excited schoolchildren who were applauding them from the kerb.
Their march came to a halt at Commemorative Park, near the cenotaph, where Det Insp Greg Moore presented retired officers with special medallions in recognition of their service.
"It's a big milestone - 150 years - and a big achievement in any organisation," Det Insp Moore told The Echo.
"It was a good time to celebrate the men and women of NSW police who have served the community so well over many years. And it was pleasing to see the big turnout and goodwill from the Lismore community to support the police and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our officers.
"There were about 130 sworn officers marching, and about 80 retired officers, who were given medallions.
The following night, uniforms were discarded in favour of dinner jackets and evening dresses for the Policeman's Ball at the Lismore Workers Club.
"We got together a while back and formed a committee to organise the celebrations, and they came up with the idea of holding a ball as well as the march," Det Insp Moore said.
"The feedback was so good we are thinking of holding them on a more regular basis.
"We'd like to give a big pat on the back to our organising committee for the way they decorated the auditorium, and to the staff of the Workers Club."