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Police Commissioner emphasises importance of family

Former Commissioner Andrew Scipione APM (Retired in 2017) giving his speech after formal dinner

The former Commissioner of Police in NSW (Retired in 2017), Mr Andrew Scipione APM, emphasised the importance of the family when he spoke at the College on 22 August 2012.

“If you want to destroy a nation, destroy the families,” he told Warrane residents in the College’s main common room.

He stressed that it was extremely important for men to take their responsibilities, particularly as fathers, seriously. “Getting a balance between work and family life can be very hard,” he said. “Long after I stop being Commissioner of Police I will still have the same family, God willing. They have got to be more important to me.”

Mr Scipione said that his children had told him that he was important in their life while they were growing up, but he still often thinks he should have spent more time with them. “It’s a tough question and the higher you go in an organisation the tougher it gets,” he said. “But don’t ever forget it is the most important thing.”

Asked what was the biggest social problem in NSW he said it was “men not acting as men and being there for their families”. Some of the most tragic cases he had come across involved kids who didn’t have a good relationship with their fathers. In many cases they didn’t even know their fathers, or their fathers had never made them feel valued.

“Their fathers had never told them ‘I really love you, I really care for you’,” he said. During his talk, Mr Scipione drew attention to the role that Christianity had played in his life. He said when he was growing up his family had not been “church affiliated”, but he had become a Christian at the age of 14.

“From that date I started to realise what was important,” he said. “Three months later my father died from a heart attack. My church family took up the challenge and taught me how to be a man and how to be a father and my life started to come together. I have a very strong faith relationship. That is what brings order to my life.”

Mr Scipione said that the culture of the police force had changed over the years that he had been part of it. While there had been a certain amount of corruption among police officers in the past, he was confident that things had improved dramatically.

Today the average age of a new recruit to the force was 28, the average age of officers was 38 and all recruits had a university degree.

He said that most of the problems that the police have to deal with are linked to alcohol abuse: “In about 70 percent of matters we deal with alcohol is a factor,” he said.

Illegal drug taking was also an increasingly serious problem. When random breath testing was undertaken to check for alcohol, around one in 80 people tested positive, but with drug testing the figure was one in 20 or one in 30.

(A podcast of the talk is available through Warrane’s iTunes Channel. Photos of the evening are available on our Facebook page)