About the podcast Distinction
Stories of courage from inside Victoria Police
- Season 1
At approximately 2:00pm on 20 March 1997, members of the Westgate District Task Force were performing plain clothes duties in the Footscray area when their attention was drawn to a male acting suspiciously in the car park at the corner of Donald and Droop Streets. Constables Pauline Williams and Matthew Neilson maintained their observations of the male's activities and then witnessed him run towards a vehicle and appear to conduct a "bag snatch but in fact was an armed robbery". Williams and Neilson chased the offender down a laneway. As an unarmed Neilson turned the corner, the male suddenly stood up from between two parked cars and pointed a pistol at him. Following close by, Constable Williams drew her service revolver and ordered the male to put the weapon down. The man moved the pistol momentarily in Williams direction and then held it at point blank range towards Neilson. In fear of Neilson's life, Williams fired off two rounds which distracted the male and gave Neilson the chance to dive for cover. The offender then moved towards Williams and pointed his pistol directly at her. She believed her life was in danger and fired off one reaction shot which caused the offender to back away. Both constables started to walk towards the male and reiterated that they were police and for him to drop his weapon. The male did not respond and Williams was forced to fire another round which struck the male dropping him to the ground. Williams immediately approached him and dragged the weapon away with her foot whilst maintaining her stance. Both police officers would eventually receive the Victoria Police Valour Award, awarded to sworn police employees for a particular incident involving an act that displayed exceptional bravery in extremely perilous circumstances. But this story is more than just one moment of bravery, we sit down with Pauline Williams as the now Inspector shares her story of PTSD and living with the consequences of that day. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Aimee Milne and Edward Barnett
This episode we explore two tragic stories from the history of Victoria Police. The support of police officers’ families has forever been crucial to Victoria Police, but in 1936 Aimee Milne made the ultimate sacrifice when she was killed by bombs intended to murder her detective husband. The wife of Detective Sergeant Fred Milne, Aimee this year became the first ever non-police officer to receive the prestigious Victoria Police Star, an honour traditionally reserved only for officers who are killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. Det Sgt Milne was a brilliant detective, known for investigations into some of the most high-profile organised crime figures of 1920s and 1930s Melbourne, including the infamous Squizzy Taylor. His tenacity in bringing criminals to account meant Det Sgt Milne received his fair share of death threats. The threats tragically became reality when two improvised explosives were thrown into the main bedroom of his and Aimee’s home in Geelong in the early hours of 13 July 1936. The explosion killed Aimee but Det Sgt Milne miraculously survived, along with their two young children. Constable Barnett was murdered soon after 1.00 am on Monday, 1st February 1858, at the White Hills Goldfield near Carisbrook. He had been attempting to arrest William Brook, who had just shot and killed a restaurateur named Charles Lopez during a bungled attempted robbery. Brook, who had been severely wounded in a struggle with Lopez, fired at Barnett whilst attempting to escape, and one of his bullets struck the policeman in the heart fatally wounding him. The murderer’s efforts were in vain, however, for he was soon arrested, and died later that same day from stab wounds inflicted by Lopez. The deaths of Lopez and Barnett enraged a local community already incensed by the actions of the ‘undesirable elements’ who had been attracted to the rush and who preyed on the diggers. Later that day a crowd of some 1500 miners assembled, and the ‘undesirables’ became a target for their vengeance. The meeting soon developed into a riot during which numerous buildings were destroyed and people assaulted before peace was re-established. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
At about 8:20pm on Friday 3 February 1978, two masked men, one armed with a .22 calibre pistol, committed an armed robbery on the Target Supermarket in Reservoir. Detective Bannan, who was off-duty in the store at the time. heard screams over the store's public address system. He made his way into the office where the robbery was taking place. As he reached the doorway, one of the robber's thrust a pistol into his side and ordered him into a nearby room, threatening to kill him if he resisted. Bannan was ordered to face the wall, but several times he turned his head to try and get a look at the robbers. Each time he did this he was told to face the wall or he would be shot. As the offenders were making their getaway, Bannan produced his service revolver, identified himself as a police officer. and called on them to surrender. One of the men then fired two shots at him. A running gun battle took place, as Bannan pursued them from the store. As they were leaving, a Police Reservist named Ray Mulder, who was also in the store off-duty, tackled an armed offender. The man shook him off and Mulder fell to the ground. As he got up, the second offender ran past, and Mulder kicked a bag out of his hand, which contained all the money they had just stolen. Bannan chased both men and eventually took hold of one of the offenders, who called on his accomplice to kill the detective. The man aimed his gun an Bannan from a distance of two metres, while Bannan used the man's accomplice as a human shield. Mulder then ran up and the armed offender ran off, pursued by Bannan, while Mulder subdued the remaining offender. The second offender was arrested in the same area some time later. This is the story of the event that resulted in Brendan Bannon being awarded the George Medal. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On the morning of 4th June 1976 three masked men entered a bank and carried out an armed robbery. One of the men ordered the staff to lie on the floor, another jumped over the counter and removed money from the tills while the third remained in the public area and fired a shot in the direction of the manager and a customer when they ran towards the rear of the bank. Constable Pratt, who was off-duty and unarmed, was driving past the bank in his private car and saw the men entering the bank ; he noticed that each man was masked and carrying a firearm and realised that they were about to commit an armed robbery. He immediately turned his car, switched up the lights and, sounding his horn, mounted the kerb and blocked the bank entrance. He instructed a passer-by to call for police assistance. The raiders were taken by surprise, but one of them threatened the Constable with a gun and signalled to him to remove the car, whereupon the officer refused, removed the ignition key, and armed himself with the handle of a car jack. The men then attempted to leave the bank by kicking in the lower section of the glass door and climbing over the bonnet of the car. As the first man straddled the front of the car Constable Pratt grabbed him firmly and during the violent struggle which ensued the robber was knocked unconscious. By this time a second gunman had left the bank and climbed over the car, aimed his weapon and threatened to shoot the officer at close range ; the man had his arms extended at shoulder height and pointed a revolver directly at Constable Pratt. The first man had by now recovered consciousness and was getting to his feet, so the officer grabbed him again and the man called to the gunman to shoot the Constable. A shot was then fired and Constable Pratt who was in the process of trying to protect his back and at the same time retain his hold on his captive, was seriously wounded. Constable Pratt displayed outstanding bravery, devotion to duty and a complete disregard for his own safety when, unarmed and single handed, he faced and attempted to arrest these dangerous armed criminals. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
About the podcast Distinction
Stories of courage from inside Victoria Police