Joicey retires with a Deni Police record
When Peter Joice first came to Deniliquin in September 1988, his goal was to get some experience in the police force and head back home to Armidale.
He was fresh from the NSW Police Academy, and specifically wanted a country posting.
Senior Constable Joice is now retiring as the police officer with the record of the most years spent at the Deniliquin Police Station.
And that’s because he never left.
Little did he realise that he would fall in love with a Deniliquin girl - his wife of more than 30 years Sam Joice - and the town.
“I passed out of the academy and started work in Deniliquin the very next day,” Sen Const Joice said.
“But the story on how I came to Deniliquin in the first place is an interesting one.
“Being from Armidale, I wanted to go to the county for my initial posting. When I looked at my assignment, I got the Sydney Police Centre.
“We were given a few days to arrange a swap with another graduate, and so I did a hand shake deal.
“I didn’t even know where Deniliquin was. I had to look it up on the map at the academy.
“I intended to come here, bide my time and then head home.”
While the councple did toy with the notion of going back to Armidale together, Sen Const Joice said they both liked it here and “didn’t want to leave”.
His first introduction to Deniliquin was a little daunting though, coming in from the north side of town.
“I had heard of Deni before, because a friend from high school had lived here.
“So I called him up. But because he left when he was five, all he could really remember was the ‘nice river’.
“Coming in from the Riverina Highway I passed over the Brick Kiln Creek and thought ‘is this it?’, and I thought Davidson St was the main street.
“But then I passed over the National Bridge, and there was a lovely little town on the other side.”
Sen Const Joice spent the first 12 months of his time at Deniliquin as a Probationary Constable, and then another 2.5 years in general duties before being assigned to what was then the District Anti Theft Squad.
From there he spent a number of years in detective work - during which time he was assigned to the triple murders of Steven Brooks and Barbara and Stacey Willoughby - followed by intelligence briefing management and more recently licensing.
"In the cops you see your fair share of nasty incidents, but what I have enjoyed more than anything is locking people up for thefts and break and enters.
“But a big change has been that property crime is far less than what we saw in the 1990s. It was not unusual to have several business break-ins in one night.
“The reduction could be because of the forensics we have now, better technology, and maybe just because people are taking more precautions now.”
As for the other changes he’s seen in his time on the force, Sen Cost Joice said the introduction of computers and internet was certainly a game changer.
“When I first started you had to write reports on a typewriter with carbon paper (for copies).
“To look up any of the Acts you had to go to the detectives’ office, and if it was night shift you couldn’t get in. You had to rely purely on the notes you took at the academy.
“Even in terms of drink driving, the technology has changed so much.
“When I started police were still using the old bags, and then of course now we also do roadside drug testing.
“That’s one of the other things that’s changed - the prevalence of drugs.
“Drugs have always been a problem everywhere, but when I first came to Deni it was normally only cannabis.
“The harder and nasty stuff has become more prevalent, and is having a real impact on peoples’ lives.”
Sen Const Joice said the number of domestic violence and mental health incidents police deal with has increased in recent years, but in his current field of licensing more proactive policing has resulted in a reduction in alcohol related crime.
And while the job can be hard, it’s also one he’s enjoyed.
“I don’t regret, not even a single minute, joining the police, I certainly don’t regret coming to Deniliquin or staying.
“There have been some good people I have worked with over the years.
“Each of us has a community interest and heart, and we do our best in difficult situations.
“I like my job, but I knew the time had come (to retire).
“An opportunity presented itself to exit early, so I took it.”
Sen Const Joice said he was in high school when he first decided he wanted to be a police officer, but he did divert form the path a little.
“I was originally going to the police straight out of school, but I got another job I enjoyed very much.
“It was a small family business in Armidale, and I would do warehouse work, forklift driving, book binding, deliveries, sales and for a short time, when we were doing a car park, I was a steam roller driver.
“I was there five years, but I realised it was not going to pay the bills in to old age.
“When you’re young ans silly and at school you look at policing as a good, respectable career, and I did have a desire to do good things.
“But there was a financial incentive to pursue it as a career too.
“I was 23 when I went to academy, and I had my 24th birthday there during the 12 week course.”
By happy circumstance, it was only after he became a police officer Sen Const Joice discovered a direct connection to the profession.
His great grandfather was a ‘bobby’ in England, specifically Newscastle, in the early 1900s. He died on the job, reportedly suffering a heart attack while at a soccer match in Newcastle at the age of 45.
Sen Const Joice will serve his final day as a police officer this Friday.