31 March, 2023
Respected officer calls it a day after 34 years
A POLICE officer who has given 34 years to the force and trained many of the first year Constables in the region has retired after a fulfilling career with many highlights.
Sergeant Paula Byrne started her career in 1988 as a probationary Constable, graduating from the Oxley Police Academy in April 1989 and returning to her home town of Cairns later that year.
As a Cairns local, the Far North was where Paula wanted to police and ultimately, where she stayed for the next 34 years. While Paula didn’t remain in the same position, she sure did excel at firsts.
In December 1993, she became the first female police officer to take up a position in the Far North Drug Squad, and the first female officer to relieve in the Far North Stock Squad.
In 1980, hostage negotiators were introduced to the service and in 1993, Paula became one of a select few female negotiators across the State and the first for the Far North.
Not one to remain idle in a job, Paula transferred back to general duties in 1995 and decided to become a Dignitary Protection Officer as well as a negotiator in her spare time.
She had the pleasure of working in several teams, providing security for some of our most famous visitors including Queen Elizabeth II, who visited Cairns in 2002, and former President Bill Clinton who visited Port Douglas in 1996.
Paula also provided security for state officials for the G20 in 2014, and athletes and state officials for the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
However, her most memorable job was in 1997, when she commenced an investigation into al-legation of animal cruelty towards horses and camels.
At the conclusion of the in-vestigation, Paula charged a local tourist operator with 12 offences under the Animal Protection Act, in which the tourist operator was found guilty and banned for life from ever having possession or custody of an animal.
Moreover, Paula seized all the animals that were in the tourist operator’s care, and personally fed and treated their injuries for several months while awaiting the outcome of the court case.
The court’s decision was for the animals to be forfeited however, Paula applied for the animals to be donated to an organisation for local riders with disabilities.
Paula transferred to Mareeba General Duties in 1997 before being promoted to Sergeant in 2003 as the District Education and Training Officer (ETO).
She has been the training of-ficer for 44 groups of First Year Constables (FYCs) which is ap-proximately 200 FYCs, with some of them still working here on the Tablelands.
Paula’s patience and under-standing when dealing with FYCs over the years saw her awarded ETO of the Year in 2008.
“Sergeant Byrne always showed a high level of professionalism, she was my go-to person, always reliable, caring, and had a strong guiding influence not only me through my first year, but throughout my career over the last 14 years,” Senior Constable Aleda Day said.
Paula not only excelled in her policing career but also outside of the job, where she is one of the most respected judges and members of the Western Dressage Association of Australia.
“I hope that Paula thinks of her career as ‘the time of her life’, she is going to be sorely missed come Monday morning, but we wish her well in her next adventure, which starts tomorrow, I believe, with a long drive to pick up her new horse”, Senior Constable Day said