Lake Macquarie Police commander Danny Sullivan on health, wellbeing and running for fallen officers

Being the commander of a police force is – to put it mildly – a stressful job.

As the Lake Macquarie Police Superintendent, Danny Sullivan has a lot of responsibility to keep the community and his officers safe.

“In our world, which is a high-stress world, there’s a very strong relationship with being able to manage your stress and do your job effectively,” Superintendent Sullivan said.

“To be a well-rounded human, you’ve got to work on the mind, spirit and body.

“If one of those is out of balance, the whole is not as good as it could be.”

Superintendent Sullivan said some people “work on their spirit through a religious frame, but others do it through a philosophical frame”.

“But you’ve also got to work on your body.”

When it comes to keeping his body in shape, he exercises daily.

“That’s my favourite time of the day. It’s my time, I get to do what I want. It’s a release and I feel energised,” he said.

“I come from a triathlon background, but I’m into CrossFit now.”

Superintendent Sullivan said evidence shows “a direct link between health and wellbeing and sustainability and longevity in an occupation”.

“We’re doing a lot of work internally around that. We’re at the forefront of the mental health challenge,” he said.

In Command

Being a police commander, he says, is a “great honour”.

“It’s like every occupation I suspect – it’s all about the people.”

A key part of his job is to ensure officers get home safely.

“We as police, we choose our occupation, and we choose it knowing that it’s dangerous,” he said.

“We choose it knowing that literally every day could be our last on this Earth.

“Our family members don’t get that choice. They’re with us and sadly they’re on this journey with us.”

Superintendent Sullivan had experienced the “terrible honour of addressing the family of a fallen officer”.

“One thing we say in the police is that you’ve joined the blue family,” he said.

“It’s so important for those family members whose loved one has laid down their life, that they remain members of the family.”

This is where NSW Police Legacy comes in.

“They look after those families for the rest of their lives,” he said.

As well as being the commander of Lake Macquarie, he’s vice president of the Police Provident Fund, which works with Police Legacy to look after the families of fallen officers.

When a police officer “gives that ultimate sacrifice”, Police Legacy provides professional and compassionate support to their families through benefits, services and advocacy. 

“They can only do their work through donations,” he said.

In The Running

Superintendent Sullivan is urging the public to be part of a fun run at Newcastle foreshore on Sunday, August 19 to raise funds for Police Legacy.  

The event –  Do the 5 for NSW Police Legacy – features a 5-kilometre course for recreational, serious or novice runners and walkers.

“We chose five kilometres as the distance because it’s accessible, whether you’re a walker or a runner,” he said.

“It’s there for those who want to take it seriously and those who want to have a bit of fun.”

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie police commands will host “capability displays” at the event.

“Newcastle foreshore is a beautiful part of Australia,” Superintendent Sullivan said.

“It’ll be a great day on the foreshore where people can support local police who put their lives on the line every day, and also get an understanding of the capability of their local cops.”

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