Being a police officer is much more than just a job for Lake Illawarra's Sergeant Lawrence Lucas.
It has given him opportunities and experiences he never imagined he would have.
But not only that, the NSW Police Force allowed him to continue his skills and training with the Army Reserves.
And without the support of his family, he never would have been able to continue doing what he loves.
Sergeant Lucas was recognised for his exemplary service to the Illawarra region over the past 37 years when he was awarded an Australian Police Medal as part of the Australia Day Honours on Wednesday.
Sergeant Lucas said he was "honoured", "shocked" and "humbled" to receive the accolade.
He had received messages of congratulations from loved ones along with current and former colleagues throughout the day.
Sergeant Lucas joined the police force in 1986 and was posted to the Wollongong Police Station, where he has built a long and distinguished operational policing career. In 2002 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
In 2019 Sergeant Lucas was appointed and still serves as a deputy local emergency operations controller for the Illawarra district.
"My current role is a scarce resource coordinator at Lake Illawarra Police Station, where I also assist with station manager duties," Sgt Lucas said.
He checks on equipment to ensure it is capable, maintained and deemed operational.
"I also perform field protocol duties, award ceremonies and internal protocols at Lake Illawarra and Wollongong.
"One of the sadder parts of my job is being a representative at serving and former police officer' funerals. It important for their families to know they are still part of the policing family and we continue to recognise the service they provided to the community."
Sgt Lucas also performs protocol duties at the training academy in Goulburn and is on the workplace health and safety committee at Lake Illawarra. He has completed a number of courses for work as he a big advocate for life-long learning.
Sgt Lucas is also a police search advisor for evidence searches at crime scenes.
"I started my working career after joining the army reserves then I worked at Bluescope as a tradesman then moved into the police force," he said.
"The police force as a profession I regard as a life-long career.
"I don't consider it to be a job. The number of opportunities I have had in the police force has been unbelievable. It has allowed me to do a variety of work."
Sgt Lucas said one of his favourite roles was as a field training officer at Wollongong and Lake Illawarra.
In more recent times his leadership and expertise in responding to fires, flood and the pandemic at command, region and state level has ensured the safety of many communities.
During 2001 he was seconded to the 6th rotation of the Australian Federal Police as a civilian police officer with the United Nations Transitional Administration East Timor.
He was deployed to East Timor's south-western border where he performed duty as sub-district commander of two districts during the country's first national election.
Sgt Lucas was commended for his dedication to educating Timorese police officers, his investigative tenacity and leadership resulting in the issuing of arrest warrants for several politically motivated assaults during the lead-up to the election and the application of detailed planning to support the conduct of election day security operations at several voting venues.
Sgt Lucas has championed policing professionalism across the Illawarra region and other state-wide deployments, workplace health and safety, incident and emergency management, the return to work of injured and ill workers and police protocol duties, while providing devoted and loyal service to each of his commanders.
He is also a strong believer in an integrated and equal workplace where men and women perform the same roles.
Sgt Lucas has also enjoyed and continues to love his role in the army reserves and the opportunities it has given him, and has recently started volunteering for the SES Shellharbour unit.
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