Sadly, not all police officers act with the level of professionalism and integrity that we expect of the force. But while several instances of police misconduct have made the headlines recently, there are also many officers who go above and beyond the call of duty – placing themselves in harm’s way despite the risks
Craig Campbell is one such officer – bravely fighting off hooligans during the 2005 Cronulla Riots, an event which displayed Australia’s dark side to the rest of the world.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Back in 2005, the south Sydney suburb of Cronulla made headlines when thousands gathered to for a “Leb and wog bashing day”, as text messages described it. Anyone of ‘Middle Eastern appearance” who happened to be in the area at the time was targeted by a drunken, flag-wielding mob of ‘patriots’ which swelled to five thousand.
During the riots, Officer Campbell courageously protected two Middle Eastern men from being bashed on a train. After being told the men were in danger of being beaten to death, Campbell fought off 30-40 assailants with his baton, clearing the train carriage within minutes.
But now, Mr Campbell lives in a caravan and no longer works for the police force. After the incident, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), something he thought would never happen to him.
“I never thought about PTSD” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I thought it was all rubbish. But I still see the faces when I close my eyes. You try to push it out of your head, but you can’t.”
It all came to a head in 2007, when Mr Campbell ended up in a psychiatric ward. He was discharged from the police force, and his divorce swallowed-up most of his lump-sum compensation payout.
Mr Campbell now survives on $440 per week – the amount he still receives under worker’s compensation. The bravery award that was bestowed on him was later taken away when he was found to have used excessive force against the drunken mob.
He has tried to secure alternative employment, without success: “No one wants me. I tried for two years to get a job in the mines and that. I get me front-loader ticket. I got me forklift ticket”, but to no avail.
He also lost his house and found getting support difficult, saying:
“I’m really teared up because you know, I’ve helped so many people out in my personal life in and around here in Dapto and when I wanted a bit of a hand, trying to get my car on the road and things like that, no one could be seen for dust.”
But fortunately for Mr Campbell, the story didn’t end there.
A Thank You and a Helping Hand
Years later, two Australian Muslim men who heard about the former officer’s plight wanted to thank him. They took him out for lunch, and gave him $1000 worth of clothing and cash as a thank you for his actions.
One of the men, Beylal Racheha, said:
“We just wanted to say thank you to him for the work he’s done, it was sad no one had acknowledged it… When I watched it happen 10 years ago, I was proud of that policeman. It showed that police weren’t racist. It made me feel like we weren’t being purposely targeted.”
It’s truly a shame to see such a brave police officer fall so hard. We need more like him.