IT'S a thankless task our women and men in blue embrace everyday: serving and protecting our community, stamping out crime and responding in times of crisis.
Yesterday was their day to be celebrated for their hard work day in day out.
More than 60 retired and active police officers and staff from across the Richmond and Tweed/Byron Local Area Commands were awarded honours for policing and service.
Acting Superintendent Nicole Bruce stood before the 100-strong crowd at Lismore Workers Club and reflected on what she described was a challenging year since their last ceremony.
Shark attacks, proactive policing efforts - such as a 61.8% increase in personal and vehicle searches - as well as major operations were some of the big events Acting Supt Bruce touched on.
What started as a local operation at Nimbin, Strike Force Cuppa grew to involve more than 100 police. The operation included: 11 search warrants, 26 arrests, 87 charges, 26 forensic procedures and more than $1 million in drugs seized.
Acting Supt Bruce said Cuppa highlighted the force was "winning the battle" on drug abuse around the region.
She recognised present family and friends, who she said were critical for supporting officers "through the constant grind of policing and servicing the community in times of crisis."
One of the biggest honours of the ceremony was the presentation of the Australian Police Medal to Commander Superintendent Greg Martin.
The exclusive medal recognises distinguished service by a member of the police force.
Commander Supt Martin was awarded the honour by NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller, who said awarding the medal was "one of the greatest honours" as commissioner.
Seventeen officers were awarded the National Police Service Medal, which recognises police with at least 15 years service and their dedication to their community.
Former Lismore officer, Sgt Matthew Jacka, who died from cancer last March, was posthumously awarded his third clasp for 25 years service.
Close friends, Suzie Mulherin and partner Inspector Gary Cowan accepted the award on behalf of Sgt Jacka's family.
"He was a great bloke and he is sadly missed by everybody," Insp Cowan said.
The force that drives our police were recognised beside officers with region manager, Shellie Smyth presented the Long Service Award and Amie Walker honoured for 15 years volunteering in police.
Ballina SES unit controller, Gerry Burnage, Ballina Shire Council, Rural Fire Service and Country Energy were formally recognised for their support to police during the Lennox Head tornado in June 2010.
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