After four decades of distinguished service, Newcastle-based Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell APM will swap his prominent blue uniform for a wetsuit after bidding the NSW Police Force farewell this week.
NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller, together with Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys and NSW Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott, joined members of the Northern Region Command at Newcastle to celebrate the career of the popular officer, who marked his final day of operational service on Thursday 29 April.
The ceremony also culminated in a March Out at Newcastle Beach, which included a guard of honour and a fly-over by the Aviation Support Branch.
Assistant Commissioner Mitchell then gave a last salute to Commissioner Fuller.
“It’s time; I’m looking forward to the next chapter,” he said.
“In fact, I’m happy to hand over the duties to someone else.
“But, it was terrific to wind up my career in the area where I started.
“It’s been an honour to serve the Northern Region.”
Growing up in Lake Macquarie, Assistant Commissioner Mitchell joined the force in 1981, spending the early part of his career in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie area undertaking both general and investigative duties at a number of commands.
He was designated as a detective in 1989, before rising through the ranks and working at Raymond Terrace Patrol, Tuggerah Lakes Local Area Command (LAC), Brisbane Water LAC, Performance, Improvement and Planning Command, and Newcastle City LAC.
In February 2011, he led the NSW Police Force’s response to the Christchurch earthquake (Operation Monro) in New Zealand, overseeing a contingent of 130 police and emergency service personnel.
Assistant Commissioner Mitchell was then seconded to the Australia New Zealand Police Advisory Agency (ANZPAA).
“That’s probably one of the highlights of my career,” he said.
“When dealing with something so tragic, to see everyone work together was extremely rewarding.”
Following this, he developed a proposal to establish a new command, the Police Transport Command (PTC), where he was promoted and started operations as the Commander in May 2012.
He returned to his home turf in Northern Region as the Commander in 2017, where he finishes his career after 40 years on the beat.
His effort has not gone unrecognised either.
Assistant Commissioner Mitchell received a Commissioner’s Commendation in recognition of outstanding service.
He was also awarded the Australian Police Medal (APM), the National Police Service Medal, a Humanitarian Overseas Service award, and clasps to the NSW Police and National Service medals.
He was instrumental in the creation of the Aged Crime Prevention Officer role within the NSW Police Force, too – a dedicated position which focuses on preventing, disrupting and responding to the exploitation, abuse, and neglect of vulnerable people in the ageing, disability and homelessness sectors.
For Assistant Commissioner Mitchell, his retirement means spending more time with family and friends, a bit of golf, surfing the best breaks and travelling around Australia.