NSWPL Stories: Harris Landgraf

Harris Landgraf

“So you don’t miss being a plumber, then?” I ask.

“Three metres deep in the ground, covered in someone’s turds? Nah.”

Harris Landgraf is a country boy, embodying the very best of the open, friendly, and occasionally earthy outlook that entails. Approaching the end of his first year as a NSW Police Force Probationary Constable, his cheery demeanour has served him well in his chosen profession. But how did he get to this point? Let’s go back a little.

Like a lot of kids in his situation, the first that Harris knew about NSW Police Legacy was when they became a sudden presence in his life after tragedy. When Harris was just nine, his stepmother, Snr Cst Renea Landgraf, passed away. At her funeral, he had his first real experience of the love and community of the Police Family.

“There were hundreds of cops… Dad’s best mate Bushy took us there in his highway patrol car. The church was just filled with police officers. Hugs all round. It was pretty emotional.” To the young boy, it made a huge impression. “That’s when I knew the police were going to be a big part of my family.”

Harris’s father was also a police officer, but Harris didn’t initially enter the force, signing up at age sixteen to do a plumbing apprenticeship instead. At the encouragement of our Community Support Manager Leisa Doherty, he applied for, and received, the Kerslake Scholarship – an award given to fund technical education. He was thrilled at the support. “You know, being a young fella, you get five grand put into your account and all I wanted was that big drill set!”

His next big involvement with Police Legacy came through doing the Kokoda Trek in 2019. It was a transformative experience. He loved sitting around at the end of the day with all of these people who shared a similar story. “You’ve always got someone in your corner understanding where you’re coming from”

Another person on the trek that year was then-Commissioner Mick Fuller, who was hugely encouraging of Harris’s desire to become a police officer. On returning to Australia, Harris asked for, and was given “huge amounts” of support from Leisa and then-Chair Det Supt Gary Merryweather, who helped him get into the Police Academy. Leisa also put him in touch with Cain Anderson, another Police Legatee, who was going through in the class above him. The Police Family really swung into action.

Since attesting in December last year, he’s had a wide variety of experiences, and he can’t imagine now wanting to do anything else. “It’s more than just a job; it’s a passion,” he says. His Dad, now retired, has been incredibly supportive. “I’m living his dream,” says Harris. Dad calls every few days to hear the stories, and check in with how Harris is coping with it all. Things are very different to when his Dad was on the job, with police counsellors and all kinds of support services available. And Harris often finds himself checking in with his colleagues, helping  them decompress from tough days.

As passionate as he is about his newfound career, he is equally passionate about Police Legacy. With the support of his Inspector, he recently organised a tri-state golf day in the region where he’s stationed, bringing together police officers from VIC, SA, and NSW, and raising more than $9,000 for NSW Police Legacy – a phenomenal feat. And apart from the money, he loves that he’s helped to share the story of why this organisation matters. “People say ‘I give money to Legacy each pay, and what do they do?’… but when I tell my story, and what I’ve been through… people say ‘look at what they’ve done!’”