Sworn in as a probationary constable September 1980

The NSW Police Force seemed the perfect career choice for the adrenaline charged eighteen year-old straight out of high school, a job which demanded high levels of fitness together with the promise of high octane excitement.[1] Growing up watching Crawford Production classics like Homicide and Division 4 and then afterwards drawn in by the glamour and brawn of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry and Charles Bronson’s vigilantism, it made policing and the pursuit of criminals seem honourable and right. Later I would learn of the many flaws and inherent ambiguities that muddied the concepts of law and justice, and even further their blurred connection to ethics.[2] The media and Hollywood did their best to confuse these high ideals still more. My goal, though, having managed to score a respectable Higher School Certificate (HSC) was to eventually study at university. I wanted to learn the reasons for why ‘things were’ and to get at some clues as to why we ‘think’ the way we do. Even though at the time, my philosophical conception of these existential questions could only be described as extremely naive. But I still came to the early realization that my ‘personality type’ and policing would not sit comfortably together. I decided to change course. Less than a year after having been sworn in as probationary constable at the graduation ceremony in the old Police Academy on Bourke Street, Redfern,[3] I handed in my resignation and once more prepared myself for the life of a student. Except, I should say, for a very brief stint as a private investigator!

It was around this time too, the whys and wherefores I do not exactly remember [except to being drawn by the book’s cover of a man struggling under the weight of a huge rock], that I would come across Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus (1942). I too, like countless other generations, would be forever hooked. The “absurd man” [A. Camus] versus the “Beyond-Man” [F. Nietzsche].

Freshly pressed and smart-looking in our dark blues and appointments,[4] class 168 which passed out that day included the current police commissioner Andrew Scipione whose gritty determination was there from the start (his shoes were always perfectly spit-polished) and one of my life-long friends Arthur Katsogiannis who has since risen to the rank of chief superintendent. There was also a future First Grade rugby league footballer in our class, and so too a long-legged Gail Petith the third runner-up from the 1974 Miss World pageant. The majority of our drill instructors (who were acting sergeants at the time) were veterans from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. They were tough, gruff, and fair. We were a group of young men and women from as diverse a background as you could get, but we got along well and supported each other through what is called the initial training. Most of us I must confess did really awful at the firing range. Many of us had never held a gun before, let alone fired a pistol at a distance. In this instance the standard NSW Police sidearm the Smith & Wesson .38 calibre revolver. The real sharp shooters were from the country. They were also allowed to ride the horses. We did better at the Saint Ives police driver training course. Though once more, a large group of us did not fare too well speeding about playing ‘cops n’ robbers’ in the infamous “oil pan”.

As I started to adjust back into civilian life, for I had been a member of the NSW constabulary in what was then called the Junior Trainee program months before, I could never have guessed, that I would soon be spending some fifteen-years of my life as an undergraduate and postgraduate student. And the idea of becoming a university lecturer, let alone co-ordinating my own course, publishing essays, and writing books, was beyond any reasonable imagination.[5] Ironically, not too far from the police academy was the place where a little over five years later I was to begin on the other much more life defining journey. The seminary which had yet to be established and to whose pioneering group of students I would belong, would in comparison make the hard months preparing to become a police officer [and even later where I would serve in the Cypriot National Guard] an afternoon stroll in the park.[6] Yet nothing is ever wasted of our life experience. A brief interlude or a long happening can be of equal value. All things and all encounters bring along their own special significance and fortune.


I have now for a long time accepted as true and considered it a vital component of our learning-process something which the German-Swiss poet and novelist, Hermann Hesse (recipient of both the Nobel and Goethe Prize), expressed in arguably one of his finest works, Siddhartha (1922)[7]:

“I have always believed, and still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”


[1] http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/about_us/history

[2] A recent paper published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies by T.R.S. Allan, “Law, Justice and Integrity” is well worth the visit: http://www.laws.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Law-Justice-and-Integrity-TRS-Allan-2010.pdf

[3] In 1984 the NSW Police Academy relocated from Redfern to its current location in Goulburn: http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/159480/PW_20_07_09-LR.pdf

[4] These were the Revolver, Baton, and Handcuffs.

[5] http://works.bepress.com/mgmichael/

[6] http://www.sagotc.edu.au/

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhartha_(novel)