It was the job he had wanted to do since he was 13 years old but Superintendent Chris Taylor never expected to be a police officer this long.
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On Friday, February 14 at 2pm Superintendent Taylor marched out of the Parkes Police Station, through a guard of honour of his work colleagues, fellow emergency service personnel, local councillors and Parkes Shire Council staff.
It was his last day of operational service in the NSW Police Force.
Fifty years of service culminated in this moment and it was the most emotional the 69-year-old said he's been.
"That's when I really felt it," he said.
"I hadn't thought about it too much because I've been that busy at work, and work does not ease off.
"We had a farewell lunch on Friday and then [Chief Inspector] Dave Cooper said it was time, when I walked down the stairs, before I even stepped outside, that's when it hit me.
"I was very proud marching through the column.
"It's been a great ride and I'm very lucky to get through it injury-free and emotionally well."
Wife Roslyn later followed Superintendent Taylor through the guard of honour and together they were escorted home in a highway patrol vehicle.
Superintendent Taylor will be taking some well-earned long service leave leading to his retirement date in May 2021, at which time he will have achieved the remarkable milestone of more than 50 years of service, including 47 years as a sworn NSW Police Officer.
Originally from the Sutherland Shire, Superintendent Taylor joined the NSW Police Force on May 16, 1966 as a cadet at 16 years old.
Superintendent Taylor described it as being similar to an apprenticeship, where he worked in various places in Sydney, attended law lectures, did police practice procedures, learnt short hand and typing, and worked on his fitness.
He worked a school crossing in Arncliffe in southern Sydney at 18 years old, directing traffic.
"I think I was 13 when I decided I wanted to be a police officer - that's all I wanted and that's what happened," he said.
"I didn't expect to do it for so long."
He was sworn in as a Probationary Constable on his 19th birthday on April 28, 1969 and was stationed at No.24 Division in Cronulla.
During this time, he was also called up for National Service with the Australia Army and was very close to going to Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
He returned to Cronulla before transferring to San Souci Water Police in 1974.
Superintendent Taylor remained at the Water Police until 1998, serving for 24 years having attained the rank of Sergeant.
He resigned from the Force in 1998 and pursued a business venture in the Southern Highlands with Roslyn, but re-joined the Force in 2003.
He returned to work in general duties at Liverpool as a Probationary Constable but it wasn't long before he was promoted to Sergeant at Wollongong where he worked until 2008.
"Things change all the time in the Police Force, especially these days," Superintendent Taylor said.
"I was 53 years old when I returned and had to [re-train]... I hadn't done general duties for 30 years because I had been in the Water Police," he laughed.
"I quickly made my mark, but I still had to go through the promotions process."
Superintendent Taylor was promoted to the rank of Inspector in 2008 and took up the position of Duty Officer at Walgett, where he and Roslyn immensely enjoyed being.
He was promoted to his current rank in April 2013 when he took up the position of Local Area Commander for the Lachlan LAC, based at Parkes.
And he commanded the Lachlan LAC until 2018 when it merged with Canobolas LAC during the re-engineering of the NSW Police Force.
Superintendent Taylor was appointed District Commander of the Central West Police District in March 2018.
"That's been another challenge but the last seven years I've really enjoyed the job," he said.
"It's one of the best jobs I've ever had in the Police Force and at the lunch [last week] I told them you should all aspire to this because I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
"I'm going to enjoy retirement but I haven't retired because I'm fed up with the job.
"It is a stressful job but I was lucky, I had an excellent senior management team who really took on their roles.
"They do a great job and they are part of the success... This Command punches above its weight."
During the course of his career, Superintendent Taylor received numerous awards, including the NSW Police Medal (and seven clasps), the National Medal (and two clasps), as well as the National Police Service Medal.
He was the recipient of the Mervyn Finlay Trophy in 1968 and received multiple commendations including from the Royal Humane Society relating to various incidents including sea rescues.
It's hard to name the many highlights of a 50-year career, but for Superintendent Taylor, there are a few that stand out.
Particularly during his time in Walgett, where a certain and very simple memory demonstrated to him how small communities see their police officers.
"They look at you as you're their police officer, you are Walgett's police officer," Superintendent Taylor said.
"There was a woman who went to Dubbo and called saying 'I left my stove on, can the police go round and turn it off'," he laughed.
"That's the relationship between the police and regional areas, and how different it is compared to the city."
Working in emergency management has also been another highlight for Superintendent Taylor, dealing with floods, bush fires and plane crashes.
"I've been working in emergency management in its current form since the early 90s," he said.
A big part of being a police officer, Superintendent Taylor said, is dealing with people when they are at a low time in their life.
"A lot of the time we're talking to people when it's not a happy event, so helping them deal with it and making them feel at ease, is a big part of the job," he said.
"It is very satisfying if I can do that for them...knowing you've done the best you can.
"Doing the best for those people is what we do."
Superintendent Taylor is very proud of the way they police the Parkes Elvis Festival.
"We do it quietly, we have 25,000 people come to it now and we don't have any problems," he said.
"You see us around a lot."
As for changes...
"There is one word - technology," Superintendent Taylor said.
"A police officer with a tablet - he can do his work with that tablet out in the field and send you the fine to your email.
"If I don't know your identity, I can scan your finger print on that.
"And we have automatic number plate recognition and an alarm sounds in the vehicle if it's someone we're looking for or need to speak to.
"There are advances in DNA and finger prints, and you get the results back very quickly.
"It makes the job for the police officer on the street easier - that's what we want to do is make it as easy as it can be."
Superintendent Taylor and Roslyn, who have six children between them, are now looking forward to spending more time together and with their family.
They plan to travel, Superintendent Taylor wants to get back into golf and they are also involved with Parkes Can Assist.
"I'll have to start getting used to sleeping in," he laughed.
And as a last hurrah, Superintendent Taylor has been given the opportunity to march at the NSW Police Force Academy's attestation parade in Goulburn on April 24, four days before his 70th birthday.
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