Big send-off for popular team player

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Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian
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Geraldton police farewelled a dedicated team member and stalwart of the community with the retirement of Senior Aboriginal Police Liaison Officer Bobby Pepper.

At a ceremony at Geraldton Police Station, Mid West-Gascoyne District Superintendent Mike Bell presented Sen. APLO Pepper with a certificate of appreciation for his extraordinary service.

Speaking at the ceremony, Supt Bell told Sen. APLO Pepper he had served Geraldton “extremely well”.

“You walk that fine line that is very difficult for Aboriginal people — of building relationships between police and the Aboriginal community — and you’ve built them on both sides,” Supt Bell said.

“We’re losing such a vital team member and valuable resource, and that strong nexus between police and the Aboriginal community.”

Sen. APLO Pepper said the day he was accepted into the WA Police in August 1996 was one of the proudest moments of his life.

He went on to serve his entire career in Geraldton as a police liaison officer, a role he was passionate about, often spending his free time mentoring local youth.

“I’ve built a good rapport with the kids, taking them away camping and shooting the roo, skinning the roo and showing them all that,” Sen. APLO Pepper said.

“I love all the kids who I’ve been dealing with in the Mid West and I’m not going to leave them.

“I want to work along with the police and stay with these kids.”

Another proud moment for Sen. APLO Pepper came when he was named community citizen of the year at the 2018 Geraldton Australia Day Awards.

“To win a thing like that is absolutely amazing. It really made my day and it was a really top moment in my career,” he said.

“I was that pleased with the award that I took it home and it was under my pillow for four days. I’m the proudest man in Geraldton.”

Sen. APLO Pepper said while he grew up in Northampton and was “a Kalbarri and Shark Bay boy at heart”, Geraldton would always be special to him.

Now that he had retired, Sen. APLO Pepper said he would continue to be a role model for Aboriginal children while pursuing other interests such as shearing and fencing.

Also farewelled at the ceremony was Community Service Officer Bryan Walter who served with WA Police since 2006 after retiring as a train controller and yard master with Westrail.

“For almost 12 years you’ve been supporting the frontline troops by ensuring the vehicles are up to scratch, the assets are in order and the maintenance of the building is up to speed,” Supt Bell said.

“The service he provides to the frontline people to keep them out there on the road, doing the job that we all think of when we think of policing, is a real credit to Bryan.”

Both Sen. APLO Pepper and CSO Walter were given a formal march off as a symbolic gesture of appreciation for their service. Also honoured at the ceremony were Senior Sergeant Sharon Bird and Senior Constable Mike Noonan, both of whom will relocate to Perth, and Jurien Bay Police Station officer-in-charge Sergeant Mark Marriot, who will relocate to Karratha.

Mid West-Gascoyne Traffic Police Senior Constable Keith Burrows was also recognised for 25 years service with WA Police. The ceremony was held on February 2.

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