JOHN McArthur’s love for community policing and four decades of dedication have been recognised with an Australian Police Medal.
The prestigious medal, awarded to officers for outstanding leadership, innovation and initiative in policing, was announced on Australia Day and will be formally awarded at a ceremony at Government House later this year.
Mossman-born Senior Sergeant McArthur followed his father’s footsteps into the force.
He joined in 1985 and served in Cairns and Innisfail before heading to the Cape where he was deployed in Kowanyama, Coen, Aurukun and Normanton, as well as a three-year stint in Cooktown in 1997.
“I came back in 2004 as officer in charge of Cooktown and have been here ever since,” he told Cape York Weekly.
“I was surprised, very surprised, to receive the medal and I’m really grateful to everyone who has made a positive comment, I really appreciate the recognition.”
During his time the local police have expanded from a six-officer force based in Cooktown and covering Hope Vale and Wujal Wujal, to 10 officers, two detectives and two highway patrol staff in Cooktown, and separate stations in the neighbouring communities.
“It was very busy, very full on,” he said of his earlier years in the seaside community.
“In 2006 it got upgraded to more staff here, and two at both Hope Vale and Wujal Wujal, and there’s four at Hope Vale now.”
While he couldn’t pick any one job or case that stood out in his long career, Senior Sergeant McArthur said there were some that the team referred to as “Cooktown jobs”.
“You get the odd job occasionally with a really bizarre set of circumstances, we refer to those as ‘Cooktown jobs’, just a set of circumstances you couldn’t make up if you tried,” he said with a smile.
Sadly, the most common incident the team dealt with was domestic violence, he said.
“It’s very much a focus for us these days and takes up a lot of our workload.”
Senior Sergeant McArthur said for him, it was the people who made his job in Cooktown special.
“There are a lot of good people in this town,” he said.
“We work here as police, but we’re also members of this community; in a big centre you deal with someone once while working and never see them again, here we see the people we interact with at work almost daily.
“It’s a different relationship and we see them at their good times and their bad times.
“It’s nice when you can help someone.”