JohnWatsonOn Thursday, 8 February 2018, the police family lost retired Superintendent John Watson APM.

"Watto" took part in the Where are they now? article back in the June 2013 edition of Police News.

We thought it was appropriate to look back at this article as we remember him.

Where are they now? John Watson

In this edition we asked former Superintendent John Watson a few questions about his career, how he views his old job, and what he’s doing now.

What are you up to now?

I’m 65 years of age this year, and reside with my partner Larraine, in the South West of Western Australia.

I retired from WA Police on 4 July 2005, as District Superintendent of the Great Southern Police District. Why? Because the timing was right

What areas did you work in?

I commenced employment with the Western Australia Police Service on 26 January 1970 and during my 35 years, five months and nine days Policing service I was involved in a diverse range of front line operational Policing activities, management, and administrative practices.

My Policing experience was gained in coming up through the ranks with service in traffic, general country duties at two person Police stations, crime investigations/operations, and specialised Counter Terrorist units both in Western Australia and on secondment during interstate special operations. I fostered people management skills in an environment which encouraged creative customer focussed initiatives, both externally and internally, within the business fraternity, Federal and State government departments, defence forces, indigenous, ethnic and multicultural communities, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

During my twelve years as head of WA Police Anti Terrorist Squad I operated in an ever-changing turbulent environment which necessitated meaningful consolidated partnerships with ASIO, Special Defence Forces, International Police, UK, US, Federal, State and Territory special police Units, Foreign affairs, Consular Corp, Consequence Management Planning with key personnel involved with Perth Airport, and State Vital Installations.

What did you like most about Policing ?

I always believed in giving respect to frontline coppers and in return you gained the respect of others. What I enjoyed the most about being in WA Police was trying to create and enhance an excellent performing work place culture, ensuring professional connections and communications are made at all levels of business, as well as facilitating changes that were often required in an ever changing Policing environment.

What did you dislike about Policing?

I have several dislikes within the Policing business, those who use their rank to bully OICs of Police stations, sections, units and Officers in the frontline, as this is a sign of weakness which causes disaffection within the job. The other is what I have always called the “door knock of death” knocking on the front door to notify a family that a family member is deceased, then taking the stronger member to the morgue to ID the body, whilst that’s all a part of policing, it was difficult in small country towns.

What was the highlight of your career?

I have had the opportunity for many career highlights, but being part of the WA Police planning group, selected as a personal body guard, sworn in as a special Constable with Federal, Queensland, Tasmania and Northern Territory Police to provide close personal protection to Pope John Paul during his 1986 Papal visit to Australia and Western Australia was a highly memorable Policing security operation. At the time it galvanised one of the biggest combined Australian Policing operations ever put together, cocoordinated, and professionally executed. Credit and appreciation must also be extended to all WA Police Officers involved at the time.

In your opinion what have been the biggest changes in Policing over the years?

In my opinion, upon reflecting back in time, during the mid 1990s WA Police witnessed one of the biggest organisational Policing changes and reforms in the history of this Police Service. I was part of the executive team to assist with the implementation of these radical changes through the WA Police Delta reforms. It involved the transformation of localised service delivery, of which responsibility was devolved to local management such as District Office, OICs of Police stations, sections and units. As part of the change process it was important to create a good understanding of these reforms at all levels to meet ongoing contemporary Policing needs and to enhance front line service delivery - the rest is history.

Is there anything you would do to make policing as a profession safer and more appealing?

Over the many years as a serving Police Officer I have witness massive changes and challengers’ in contemporary Policing. I have worked under eight different Police Commissioners. What we did and how we did it years ago doesn’t fit the bill now. Society is changing with an ever turbulent environment, drug and alcohol fuelled dependency and violence. On a national scale homicides are on the increase with mental health issues on the rise as well, due to drug/alcohol induced psychosis. With our ever increasing population here in the West, Policing is becoming more demanding, so to make Policing a profession safer and more appealing there is a need for increasing the quality of working life, value and develop our Police Officers as they are our most important asset as well as enhancing recruitment drives for more Police Officers on the streets.

What do you miss the most about the job?

What do I miss about the job? I miss the troops, customer service personnel and good strong community people.

John Patrick WATSON APM
(Alias Watto, Retired WA Police Superintendent) Dip. Pol, Adv. Dip. Bus. (Mgt)
Regimental Number: 4226

Service History
1970 Maylands Police Academy and Central Police Station
1970 – 1973 Perth Traffic Branch
1973 – 1975 Leonora Police Station, relieved at Menzies, and Laverton
1975 – 1977 Quairading Police Station
1977 – 1979 Kalgoorlie Gold Stealing Detection – Investigator
1979 – 1984 79 Division – 24 Hour Crime Response Perth, Inaugural Team Member
1984 – 1996 Officer in Charge Protective Services & Counter Terrorist Intelligence Unit;
1989 Promotion to Brevet Inspector – of WAPOL Counter Terrorist Team
1993 Substantive Inspector – of WAPOL Counter Terrorist Team
1996 – 2003 District Superintendent South West Police District based at Bunbury
2003 – 2005 District Superintendent Great Southern Police District based at Albany