AFTER retiring from the police force after 32 years’ service, Newcastle cop Leonard “Lenny” Rees found himself in his boat fishing on Lake Macquarie “just taking it all in”.
A couple of hours earlier he’d clocked up his last shift at Waratah police station, marched out with a guard of honour and whisked away in a highway patrol car towards quieter days.
Senior Constable Rees is a stalwart of the city’s thin blue line, initially performing duties at Wallsend, Belmont and Charlestown, before spending the next 29 years in traffic services in the Hunter. He was particularly involved with the police response to major events.
“At the end of the day, when you see the job is done and you’ve put a lot of work into it – that’s what makes you happy,” he said. “When you see the look on people’s faces, that’s when you get the enjoyment.”
Like all jobs, Senior Constable Rees said, there’s good days and bad.
He recalls shootings, horrific car accidents and “some pretty nasty people”.
“But you also meet a lot of nice people,” he offered. “There are people who have been victims of crime. They show a lot of strength.”
Technology has changed, commissioners have come and gone, and in recent years Senior Constable Rees served alongside his son, Mark Rees, at Waratah.
If he were to rate the journey out of five, he said he’d give it a “solid” 4½ (he won’t miss the early mornings).
“It’s not a perfect score, but if someone was to come up to me and ask me if they should join, I’d say do it,” Senior Constable Rees said.
“I’d say go for it.”