At various times during my police career I received commendations of various kinds, usually verbal but sometimes in writing. While I have received numerous verbal commendations (some involving a formal “appearance” before an officer at District Headquarters or simply a handshake and a congratulations on a job well done by a local commander), the most valuable commendations are those delivered in writing. Here are a few examples:
Detective – Criminal Investigation Branch
Commendation at District Level for investigation into an alleged homicide. The deceased was a local drug addict, and his father suspected that he and his criminal associates were “cutting” and packaging heroin in the family home while everyone else was at work. In order to collect evidence of the drug dealing, the father installed a small voice-activated microphone in the kitchen bench, so that it would record any conversations that took place in the kitchen area during the day.
In the evening when the father returned home from work he found his son dead on a lounge chair. After listening to the tape recording and hearing his son and associates discussing drug matters, the father concluded that his son had been murdered by way of a “hot shot” (a dose of pure heroin injected into the victim to deliberately cause death).
So began the longest and most arduous investigation of my policing career. The investigation involved a series of collateral own-motion investigations, initiated on the basis of information provided by informers, or rumours circulating within the drug community of Dandenong. Because own-motion investigations are known for their potential to become skewed for reasons of self-justification, bias against individuals and adventure, I kept tape-recorded notes of every aspect of the investigation and regularly updated superiors, including my District Inspector, Detective Superintendent and the Commander of the Crime Department. The Assistant Commissioner for Crime also took a keen interest in the investigation, because of the difficulties created by the father of the deceased. (Note that I am severely critical of the use of own-motion investigations by the Legal Services Commissioner because of their volatility and the ease with which they can be used for improper purposes.)
As a result of my investigations it was found that the deceased was not the victim of murder, but of the drug culture as it existed at the time. The State Coroner, Mr. Hal Hallenstein decided, after hearing two weeks’ of evidence, that I should be commended for the standard of my work as an investigator and wrote a formal letter of appreciation to the Deputy Commissioner of Police.
I received a formal commendation worded as follows:
“Detective Senior Constable Mericka, 21776, commended at District level for a painstaking, thorough and difficult investigation inthe preparation and presentation of an Inquest Brief. The efforts of the member reflect great credit on his professionalism and were the subject of high praise from the State Coroner.”
You can read the full commendation report, together with the Coroner’s findings, by clicking on the following link: MERICKA, P., Detective Senior Constable – Excellent work performed by same
[NOTE: What made this commendation particularly satisfying is the fact that detectives are rarely commended for their work. This is because detectives are regarded as an elite group of police, selected on the basis of their aptitude for investigation, and trained to a level that gives them skills beyond those of general duties police. Detectives are expected to consistently deliver results that would earn uniformed police officers a commendation.]