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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Peter Brewer

Police gather for first post-pandemic memorial service

Acting Superintendent Glen Broadhead from NSW Police and AFP Superintendent Dean Elliott. Picture by Keegan Carroll

One officer killed in the line of duty over the past year and 14 historical deaths, including those of three Aboriginal trackers who served with police in the 1850s, will be honoured during a day of ceremonies at the National Police Memorial by Lake Burley Griffins on Thursday.

It is the first time in two years that the memorial service will be held at Kings Park, after it was conducted on a virtual basis and attendance suspended in previous years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Events will start with a dawn service, when the 15 new touchstones will be conveyed to the wall and placed alongside the 808 already there.

Police officers from all over the country are in Canberra for the memorial day, with a convoy of classic police cars, dating back to a 1974 XB Ford Falcon - a former ACT police pursuit car now in the trusteeship of the Australian Federal Police Museum - carrying the touchstones from Queanbeyan police station across to the memorial.

Victoria Police Senior Constable Bria Joyce was the only officer to die in the line of duty across the country this year.

She was killed in April when another car veered into the path of her unmarked police car.

As is the customary police and military tradition to honour the fallen, a contingent of NSW and Victorian mounted police will lead one horse without a rider, and with one boot reversed in the stirrups.

The guard of honour will comprise 120 recruits from NSW police and the AFP, who have spent much of the past day practising combined drills and preparing for the occasion.

They will form part of a procession, together with police from around the country, which will start at AFP Headquarters in Barton at 4pm and proceed across Kings Avenue Bridge to the memorial at Kings Park.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the Governor-General David Hurley, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, the Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw and the Fiji Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho will be among those attending the afternoon ceremony.

AFP Superintendent Dean Elliott said on National Police Remembrance Day, serving officers, unsworn members and former officers paused to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

"After two years of virtual services due to pandemic restrictions, we are pleased to return to in-person ceremonies which allow us to physically unite and pay the utmost respect to our fallen officers," Supt Elliott said.

"These officers paid the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our community."

Similar memorial services will be held around the country for police in each state and territory.

While hundreds of police and their families are expected to turn out for the Canberra event, their numbers are unlikely to match the several thousand who took part in a far more informal event, riding their motorcycles to the ACT - from points as far distant as Darwin and Perth - in the recent Wall to Wall Remembrance ride.

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