In President Neal’s absence P.P. Ian dispensed with the usual formalities and welcomed Rotary members and members of the local police force. He made the point that it’s great to be able to recognise the work done by others in our community.

In response Snr. Sergeant Lindsay Cook thanked us for the invitation to be our guests. He went on to describe the power of work done by Con Matsamakis, our nomination for the Peter Toomey Award, in what hasn’t been a good year for Victoria Police. Chris Bence as our chairperson then spoke of the work done locally and internationally by Rotary. He then went on to speak of the individual members of the force present with whom he had previously worked. He cited the very successful operation between Vic Rail and Victoria Police during the lockdown.

Sergeant Con Matsamakis, Chris Bence and Barrie Williams
Rotarian Chris Bence, Sergeant Con Matsamakis and PP Barrie Williams
Sergeant Con Matsamakis, Ian Bushby, Snr Sergeants Tim Cummings and Lindsay Cook
Snr Sergeants Tim Cummings and Lindsay Cook, Sergeant Con Matsamakis and PE Ian Bushby,

Barrie Williams began by reminding us of the commitment made by Noel Henry, who was not able to be present, to Blue Ribbon and the award. Barrie then gave his own qualifications to speak in Noel’s place. First, he was the oldest member present and
secondly his father had been an old school copper. He asserted that the good guys who were around then are the good guys going around now. It’s important that the people who “are on service” need to be told that their work is appreciated.

In responding Con began by acknowledging the first nations people on whose land we meet.
Since his first appointment he had learned that policing is not just about catching “bad guys: but also comforting and supporting their victims. At his first appointment in Reservoir he learned to work with multi-cultural communities who often had an innate fear of police.

His next appointment was to the “Dog Squad” his first companion here was a German Shepherd, named Ace who was a “bomb dog” and they worked together for over five years so that Ace became part of his family.

When he returned to Reservoir he met and received great encouragement from Snr. Sergeant Cook. In his present position he is involved with the Muslim and the Somali communities building bridges and trust. In that sense he drew a parallel between Rotary and Police in that both are strongly community focused. Well done Con.

In a sequel to our club award Con shared the District Award with a member of the N.S.W. force. It was a nice touch for a district that straddles two states. Both officers received their awards at the District Conference in Wangaratta last weekend.