The bravery and dedication of Blue Mountains police officers were recognised on April 11 at the Police Officer of the Year awards, presented by the Combined Rotary Clubs of Blue Mountains.
Senior Constable Chris Bambrick was the peer nominated winner for an incident with a knife-wielding man in Katoomba, and Senior Constable Daniel Skinner was the community nominated winner for two rescues in the national park.
Snr Const Bambrick was called to a domestic disturbance in Katoomba on Australia Day, when a young man believed to be on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol, was threatening himself and others with a knife.
“My partner and I went in and drew our firearms. That’s essentially the equal measure of force with a knife drawn,” Snr Const Bambrick said.
The man had the knife up to his throat, and the officers tried talking him down, all while Snr Const Bambrick had his finger on the trigger of his gun.
The man stopped and officers were close enough to immobilise him with capsicum spray and put him in handcuffs.
Snr Const Bambrick described having his finger on the trigger as “a bit too close for comfort”.
“That’s not something as police we want at any time but we have to be prepared to do it if necessary.”
Meanwhile, Snr Const Daniel Skinner’s dedication was recognised during a rescue in September of two women in their 60s who became lost in the national park after walking down the Giant Staircase in Katoomba.
Snr Const Skinner and his partner Snr Const Pat Dorahy spent three hours in heavy rain searching for the walkers, eventually finding them at 9.30pm. The rescue operation was made all the more difficult with only intermittent phone communication available.
“We found them cold and wet and one lady had an abrasion on her leg. They were extremely tired and fatigued," Snr Const Skinner said.
In the second incident in February, the police rescue officer and paramedics assisted the Consular General of the Kingdom of Lesotho who had collapsed with breathing difficulties on the Furber Steps. He had planned to take the Scenic Railway up from the valley but missed the last ride, so had to climb the stairs instead.
“I’m very proud to receive the nomination and I was surprised. We do it ‘cause we love it,” Snr Const Skinner said.
Both police officers said they couldn’t do the job without the support of their partners and family.
Police chaplain Reverend Peter Kilkeary was also given a special award in recognition of his 17 years service.