Retirement calls for long-serving Ipswich police inspector
IT HAS been a 36-year career punctuated by trauma, death, and the odd bit of joy and laughter.
It was with a fair amount of satisfaction that Ipswich Inspector Keith McDonald hung up that familiar navy blue hat for the last time Thursday afternoon, bringing his days as a police officer to an end, but it is also a bittersweet time for the retiree.
As he reflected on his time in the Queensland Police Service, Insp McDonald said it would be the people he worked alongside that he would truly miss.
“I think the thing I’m going to miss most is just the people I have worked with,” Insp McDonald said.
“People talk about the culture of the Queensland Police Service, but honestly it isn’t that much different from any other work culture, except for the fact that we are dealing with that area of society nobody else wants to deal with; the domestic violence, the traffic crashes and the break-ins.
“The attitude of the police officers out there and the initiative they show in catching offenders and putting them before the courts is hard to put into words. Their efforts are fantastic.”
When Insp McDonald took up his role at Yamanto Station just after the 2011 floods, it was on the back of a stint at Oxley where he was in the thick of the clean-up effort to get the Rocklea Markets up and running again.
It was something of a return home, after serving in Ipswich from the mid-80s into the 90s.
One of his main roles was to address the media after major incidents across the Ipswich district.
It was a role he performed with enthusiasm, priding himself on avoiding the notorious cop-lingo during his stints in the spotlight.
His zeal for the job and willingness to be on camera landed him the nickname of “Keith Kardashian”, among some within the ranks.
He also served at Fortitude Valley, Woolloongabba, and Maroochydore over the years, in addition to stints in Brisbane communications and Metro South.
Despite all that experience, it was his latter years in Ipswich that stand out, particularly a horrific explosion at a West Ipswich house in July, 2013.
A man lost several fingers when a homemade explosive detonated in his hands.
Police were then called in to clear the house of further dangerous devices and volatile substances.
“We were there for a week,” he recalled.
“None of us comprehended the magnitude of what we found there, but it was a credit to all the emergency services who attended that scene.”
Sadly, some of those people who Insp McDonald shared his experiences with are no longer around to bid him a happy retirement.
Insp McDonald marks the untimely deaths of former police officers Dan Cahill in 2015 and Troy Salton in 2018 as two of the most difficult times of his career.
“Losing a couple of guys was hard; they were both good bosses and good blokes,” he said.
As he prepares to take six months’ leave before his official retirement, Insp McDonald said he still wasn’t sure how he would handle life out of the uniform.
“There is so much going on in this job all the time; it is not your normal Monday to Friday job,” he said.
“It becomes a part of your life, so it is not just as simple as turning off a light.”
Insp McDonald is preparing to hitch up the caravan and travel as far as COVID-19 restrictions will allow.