Position Statement: Response to Critical Incidents
NSW Police Legacy was originally established for those left behind – the widows, widowers, partners and dependent children of deceased NSW police officers. Over time, our remit has expanded to become more current and more responsive to the needs of the NSW Police family. Today, we care for many members of the wider police family such as Special Constables, and through initiatives including BACKUP for Life and our Parents’ Network.
We are part of the policing community, and when somebody in that community is seriously injured, we consider it a responsibility and a privilege to do what we can to assist them. We do not do this to replace the insurance and compensation schemes already in place through the NSW Police Force. We do this because we care. We do this because we know that there are thousands of other people who feel as deeply as us, and who would like some way to show their support.
Depending on the extent of their injuries, affected officers may or may not continue to work as part of the police force. But we want to ensure that they always feel a part of the police family. When an injured officer is handed a cheque comprised of funds raised largely by strangers, it symbolises the support of a whole community. The money may enable them to take time out with their family, to get away for a little while from the constant rounds of medical procedures and paperwork that attend this kind of incident. But more than the money, the support that cheque represents is priceless.
Position Statement: Communicating the Death of an Officer
Generally, we do not make public comment on the death of police officers (serving or otherwise).
In certain high-profile circumstances a police officer’s death may be reported in the media and become a matter of public interest. In this instance we may make comment depending on the situation, taking into consideration if details of the death have already been made public and if the family have been consulted.
With regards to suicides of serving and non-serving officers, the Board will endeavour to seek expert informed advice on how we communicate this important issue in the future. We acknowledge that we have to do more, in particular to validate the grief and loss for the families, their colleagues, and Police Legatees, whilst also respecting the protection and privacy of individual families.
As we care for and support those affected by suicide, we are guided by the principle of ‘do-no-harm’. We aim to be informed and guided by the needs of the family that is bereaved, those in our ‘police family’ with lived experience, and experts in this sector.
Grief and trauma are complex, and as a result we, as a community, need to be cautious to reduce potential risk of unintended harm to vulnerable community members. Public discussion about suicide, and in particular a specific death, can be upsetting and affect people negatively. As such, we will collaborate with services that specialise in safe and responsible public discussion of suicide.
Above all else, we respect the right of a family to grieve in peace. Our overriding concern is for the health and wellbeing of the family members left behind. It is their right to decide the time and the place for any such announcement to be made. It remains our solemn duty to care for them, both in the hour of their first need, and in the weeks, months, and years of adjustment that follow.
We consider our Police Legatees like family, and like a family we are there in good times and bad.
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance there is support available.