Gatton Sergeant Bernie Wilce retires after 40 years
AFTER 40 years of wearing his sky blue uniform to work every day, Bernie Wilce will finally be able to expand on his wardrobe options.
The Gatton Police sergeant called it a day with the Queensland Police Service last week and joined family, friends and the community to celebrate at the Gatton Jubilee Golf Club for a special send-off.
Such was the importance of the occasion, that the QPS Commissioner Ian Stewart and Acting Assistant Commissioner Michael Brady made the trip to formally congratulate Bernie on his milestone.
The long-serving officer said it was a strange feeling to finally hang up the blue uniform.
"It feels like going into the unknown, I've never had another job, I went straight from high school into the academy," Sgt Wilce said.
After two years training in the academy, he was sworn into the Queensland Police Service in April 1976 and his first posting was at Caloundra.
From there he shifted around the state to a number of places before finally joining the Gatton Police Station in 1997.
After 38 years in the force, 17 of which spent serving the Gatton public, Sgt Wilce said he was honoured to be farewelled by such a special gathering last Wednesday night.
"It was an absolutely brilliant night," he said.
"I was really proud and very overwhelmed to be standing in front of people that know me, whether it was family, friends or whatever and for me to have them, along with the highest in the hierarchy, I just felt privileged."
QPS Commissioner Ian Stewart said it was a rare milestone for an officer to reach and was happy to personally thank Mr Wilce for his service to Queensland.
"I think it's absolutely wonderful when we can celebrate one of our officers completing their tour of duty after almost 40 years in the organisation, and Bernie has reached that milestone," he said.
"It's always for me, it makes me very proud, when crowds like this, not just his co-workers and colleagues in the police but many of the local community turn out to thank him and to send him on to the next stage.
"It's becoming rarer because our intake age has risen quite significantly over the years, the average age now is 26/27, so it means that very few people will ever reach 40 years service.
"Going back to Bernie's days the average was 21."