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Faces of SAPOL

There are many faces that make up South Australia Police, and we're showcasing just a few of them in our current online recruitment activity.

We recruit for Police Officers and Protective Security Officers year round usually by showcasing the day-to-day roles – this time we are focused on the people behind the uniform.

This new series has a number of familiar faces, including Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams, as well as some you may not have seen before.

The idea of the series is based on the popular Humans of New York where people tell their personal stories. Keep an eye out on our social media over the next week where we will add profiles of our Faces of SAPOL. Alternatively read all the profiles below.

People featured include Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams, Inspector Christie Matthews,  Senior Sergeant Narelle Smith, Sergeant Jonathon Brown -COVID-19 Compliance Response, Sergeant Matthew Raymond - Dog Operations Unit, Senior Constable Trevor Hood, Constable Ashwin Menon - Eastern District Child and Family Investigation Section and Protective Security Officer First Class Ann Gitau.

Remember if you know someone ready for the challenge of a career in policing, get them to visit our achievermore.com website or apply now to begin their journey to become a Police Officer or Protective Security Officer.

Faces of SAPOL Samarth Raonta

NEW - Added  16 June 2021

"My greatest struggle used to be motivation. Before this job, I completed my Bachelors in Biotech and had started doing honours. I struggled with being motivated to come in, even though study has been my strong suit - growing up in India, that’s just how it was. One day, very randomly, my mum saw that SAPOL was recruiting. And she said “This might be interesting to you” and I looked at it and went “Yeah, maybe”. But I went and applied and before I knew it, I heard I was starting in March! So, I went from never, ever thinking about being a police officer, to joining in the space of six months. Motivation hasn’t been a problem since I started with SAPOL – it was there from the beginning, at the Academy, and even now when I’m working. I’m interested in continuing to learn. The good thing about SAPOL is there’s like... a hundred different places you can go. So the experiences I’ve had and the friends I’ve made along the way, has changed my weakness into my biggest strength. I feel motivated again."

Constable Samarth Raonta

​"When I was at school, the Dog Operations Unit visited and I've known since then that I wanted to do this. We don't have fur babies in the dogs unit. PD Bandit is my partner and my colleague. I completely trust him to protect me, but he has to know that I'm the leader of his pack. He's part of the family and we love him but my kids know that he isn't going to come inside and sleep on the couch. He thrives on doing his job and the rewards he gets for that.

When I was a new recruit I had to attend a serious domestic violence situation. People were dead. It was my first big test as a police officer and I learned so much about myself that night. I also learned about the Sergeant who was my supervisor at the time. I learned what it means to be a good leader. I rang my girlfriend on the way home. We hadn't been together for long at that point. I learned a lot about her that night too. She's my wife now and she's still my biggest supporter."

Sergeant Matthew Raymond, Dog Operations Unit

​"After much convincing by my dad, in 2009 I moved to Australia by myself. Traditionally, where I'm from, girls don't move out… unless they are going to get married. Anyway, no regrets. I worked as a Disability Support Worker for 8 years until one day, I met a retired police officer who was volunteering at the same place I was. He encouraged me to apply for SAPOL. I did and when I graduated, my family were really stoked. But at the back of their minds they wondered "is she safe?" When you're out there in the public, people don't see there's someone behind the uniform. Mums and dads, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives – people don't look past the uniform to see that. So, I've explained that when I'm at work and something happens, I'm never alone! Even when I'm on school patrols solo and something happens, I'm never alone, we all look out for each other. Everyone wants to make sure everyone goes home, that's how it is. I can honestly say I really love coming to work, love my workmates, and that's another reassurance for them like yeah, I'm ok."

Protective Security Officer First Class Ann Gitau

​“I spent 2 years as a Negotiator Training Sergeant at STAR group. Being a negotiator in a high risk incident, you bring a totally different mindset. It’s about active listening. There’s usually a reason why someone’s doing what they’re doing. You have to listen and understand what that is, then you can work out how to resolve it. You need the confidence to know when something’s not right and to rely on your training to apply the appropriate legislation. In public order situations you need the confidence to stand your ground but you have to have understanding. Whether you’re negotiating with someone in crisis or someone at the supermarket it’s the same – there has to be an achievable outcome. Kids are different. Especially my daughters. There’s no negotiating, I’m a push over!”

Sergeant Jonathon Brown, COVID-19 Compliance Response

​“I’m always reading situations and reading people. I think police officers are naturally very conscious of the people and situation around them because they have to be when they’re on the front line. And you carry that awareness with you when you’re out and about. It’s even just being attuned to someone not being the same as they normally are. What's happening? Why are they behaving that way? Are they ok? And then I’m trying to pick up if someone needs to talk. Or maybe they just need someone to say “how are you going? Do you want to have a cup of tea?” That kind of awareness is hard to separate from, I take it home with me. To be a good police officer, you have to have a certain level of compassion and empathy. I think you have to have good communication skills. And by that, I don’t mean being able to talk, as some people think of it. Communicating to me is firstly about being able to listen. Listen to people because everybody has a perspective and if you can’t do that then you’re not doing justice.”

Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams

​"I have this habit that's come from my past life. I rarely switch off. And, when I say past life, I mean pre-SAPOL. I grew up in America, living and working across the US, and later, the world -- Hong Kong, Tokyo, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. I've done a few high-profile jobs, and I've worked for multi-national companies like Nike and Mattel. By 23, I was Vice President of a large media company. Then, it just so happened that my life moved to Australia. By that point, I got fed up with the corporate life. I'd spent so much time helping big organisations to make more money. People sometimes ask me, 'Why would you leave a high paying job like that to join SAPOL?' My response? Well, it was kind of a dream. I joined when I was 42! I feel very proud of my current role in the Child and Family Violence Section. I can see the effect my hard work has, in terms of making a positive change to someone's life. I go home satisfied each day, having done something valuable at work. Coming home knowing that I have made a difference is a good feeling. Whether it's big or small doesn't matter. So, in a way, it was after my 40's I started fulfilling my dreams. If I can inspire just one person with the things I've done and the difference I've made – I'd say I've achieved quite a lot"

Ashwin Menon, Eastern District Child and Family Investigation Section

"Someone once said to me that police officers see what no soul should ever see. You know, I've done 25 years operational and I learned very early on not to suppress your feelings. One of the toughest things is connecting with a person in crisis in the short interaction you have with them while remaining task focused to help them. I've always been quite a strong personality to stand up for, you know, people that maybe can't stand up for themselves. But to connect with people, you don't have to be strong. I think most people, in crisis or not, just want to connect with someone to be heard. My greatest struggle, though, would probably be not getting enough sleep. Being too busy. Working full time and balancing that with my other passions. I'm a coach for the AFLW Crows team. That's a big passion of mine. For 20 years of my life, I've been fighting and scrapping to get women to play the AFL. Well, why can't women play any sport? I'm proud of being a strong female role model. Seeing 53,000 people in the stands for the 2019 AFLW final was very special. The fact that we won was a nice little bonus.  Another passion is bird watching. Yes, ornithology is a massive thing in my life. I think everyone is an ornithologist deep down but they're all hiding it. Because, apparently, it's "nerdy". I don't think it's nerdy at all. Recently, I've also discovered that I really love Fortnight. So, I go from being a super "nerdy" birdwatcher to my super cool love my Fortnite. I'm a little obsessed with it actually."

Senior Sergeant Narelle Smith

​“Growing up, my big bother Gavin was a bit of a father figure and mentor for me and my younger brothers. He joined SAPOL when I was still a lad in high school. He’d come home and tell us all these exciting stories. His life seemed like this big adventure. That’s what got me wanting to join. I was looking up to him and thinking “I want to be like him”. Of course, he didn’t come home and tell me about all the paperwork you have to do. He’s recently been accepted into the applicant course for motorcycle policing. I’ve always said wanted to do motorcycle policing. But when Gavin joined, he wanted to go to mounted because he was a farrier before he joined. Now we joke about how if he gets into motorcycle policing, then we’ve managed to snag each other's dream job. So, I thought I’d be in job riding motorcycles but instead I’m riding a Police Horse called Yakka. I’ve been training Yakka for a while and we’ve formed a pretty solid bond. Yeah, I’ve got a soft spot for him.”

Senior Constable Trevor Hood

​“How do you ever know if you’re getting it right? I constantly strive for the right balance. I want to be a good police officer, a good manager, a good Mum, a good friend, daughter, and granddaughter. I have seven kids in my care and it’s a constant juggling act - I’m never going to keep all of the balls in the air at once. But, when one drops, my kids know it’s usually because I’m helping to keep other children and their families safe. Establishing the Family Violence Investigation Section in regional SA was one of my proudest moments. With determination and resilience, you can make anything work. Fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences you can imagine. I’ve never had any trouble negotiating flexibility so I can succeed at work and still give my best at home. I do have to take time to breathe sometimes. Tim Tams help! And the best advice I’ve ever had is, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Inspector Christie Matthews