Brett Greentree often feels like he is hacking the system, being paid to do what he loves every singe day.
But it's that dedication to being one of NSW's top cops, as Assistant Commissioner and Western Region Commander, that has seen him granted a Meritorious Award, an Australian Police Medal.
"It's like a dream, isn't it, when they're paying you to come to work but you actually enjoy it," he laughed.
The award recognises his service to the community with the "highest standards of professional policing leadership".
His work on Aboriginal community issues is especially noted, as is his leadership of the policing responses to two of the largest protests outside of Sydney in 2020.
His "calm and confident" liaison with the organisers balanced "the right to democratic freedom within the relevant COVID restrictions."
A "proud Inverell boy", he's never been one for standing too long in the same place.
"I left Inverell High School and thought, well what am I going to do? My dad said I needed a government job and suggested the cops, so here I am.
"He (dad) would be looking down now going, 'Geez son, you've done alright'."
Making the most of it, he loved his work in child protection and detecting "as a young bloke", however has the taste for leadership now.
It's like a dream, isn't it, when they're paying you to come to work but you actually enjoy it.- Brett Greentree
"I am really enjoying that civic leadership side of things now as a senior cop, to have persuasion in the organisation," he explained.
"You live vicariously through some of the big cops now, and I enjoy supporting them... because it's changed now - not that I'm a dinosaur by any stretch!"
He joined the NSW Police force in 1995, and built an outstanding reputation in rural and regional community policing and criminal investigation in Moree from 1997.
Designated as a Detective in 2002, he performed criminal investigation and child protection duties in Moree and Inverell, before his promotion to Sergeant and transfer to the Tingha Police Station in 2003.
Climbing through the ranks and travelling the state, he was promoted to Detective Inspector at Bourke, before becoming Superintendent serving as the Chief Of Staff to the Deputy Commissioner in Specialist Operations; Commander of the Lake Macquarie, Newcastle City and Brisbane Water Police districts; and from there coming to command the Western Region in 2021.
As Commander of the Newcastle City district, he was responsible for the response to two of the biggest protests outside of Sydney for the Black Lives Matter movement.
"It was a challenging time for everyone, that Covid era, and you look back now and see how difficult it really was.
"They had their democratic right to do things, and protest, while also balancing the health orders.
"I think for me, the stand out was the really open dialogue, that communication and genuineness.
"There has to be trust, I mean you will always disagree, and there were disagreements of course, but I think that trust between the two parties and the open, honest, frank communication the whole way through."
And like "cheques in the bank", he said one of the important things about civic leadership was talking about the good things, as well as the not so good, with the communities you serve.
"You've got to be talking to your community when things are going well, and not just when things go not so well," he explained.
"It's like cheques in the bank - so you can draw on those positives when things aren't."
Commander Greentree has received numerous commendations for his work, including a commendation in 2010 for dedication and commitment to Aboriginal issues, and for his work as the NSW Police Corporate Sponsor for Customer Service 2013-17.
As sponsor, he was responsible for introducing the Community Awareness of Policing Program and implemented victim follow-up recording mechanisms.
This latest award commends his work with the Bourke community to introduce alcohol restrictions which as seen a significant decrease in assaults and improved health outcomes.
He also led a project to raise the Aboriginal flag in regional police stations.
"The Western Region, it's 70 per cent of the state, and it has a lot of Aboriginal communities," he explained.
"There are very strong relationships in place, and I see it every day where I am now, those strong foundational relationships in the community.
"But in saying that you know the history hasn't been that good, and we acknowledge that, but we can always, always improve.
"We continue to try to do that and that's the beauty of having that dialogue.
"But I see some strong, positive relationships at the grassroots level in the Western Region in particular, and that doesn't mean we are at the top - we are not and still have a fair way to go - but we are moving in the right direction."
He said if this award could be dedicated to anyone, it was be his beautiful wife Kylie, and three kids, having "dragged them all across the countryside" in the 26 years of his career.
"This is for them - and also for my mum, Julie Greentree."
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