Retired Senior Constable Nita Morris still gets the itch for the job ‘all the time’, despite finishing up her career as a police officer after 37 years.
“Every time you hear the siren you look out. If you hear heaps of sirens I’ll get on the phone to somebody and ask what’s happening down in Wello or something. What’s happened here or there?”
“Friends still work there and we live on the highway, I’ll hear something on the radio and ask what’s happened.
The Dubbo resident was recognised for her length of service in the NSW Police Force during the recent district police awards.
As the longest serving female Highway Patrol Officer in NSW, serving 35 years with the Highway Patrol (HWP) the senior constable had many achievements, including in 2011 when she was commended for ignoring smoke and flames to check a blazing house for occupants in Wellington the year prior.
In January 1981 she began her policing career. She went to the Redfern Academy in Sydney and was first stationed in the city.
“It was a huge learning experience being a country girl going down to Kings Cross and places like that, it was amazing.
“From there I went to Bega, I was the first policewoman south of Nowra at that stage, which again was an eye-opener, there I joined Highway Patrol (HWP) in 1983.”
Senior Constable Nita Morris said the highlight of her career was everyday of the job.
“I’ve met so many good people and got to do so many good things … The people I worked with and the people I met made the job and kept me in the job.
“There wasn’t a day where I went to work and thought ‘I wish I wasn't here’.”
She spent 20 years based in Moree before returning to Dubbo for the past 15 years.
“It truly is a police family, that’s the thing I’ve missed most, the people I’ve worked with.
“There were hard days, difficult things happened but they didn’t make you not want to be there, you felt like you were doing something, you could see you were helping.”
She said in the job you could see that “people rely on the police and police rely on the people”.
My greatest achievement is probably being the longest serving female Highway Patrol Officer in NSW, I was in that role for 35 years.
“It’s taken me to all corners of the state. Out to Broken Hill, Moree, South Australia, you get to travel everywhere.
“Mainly it’s about road safety, education and enforcement, our main priority is road safety and general patrolling of highways, towns and everywhere in between.
“I saw some serious fatalities, numerous multi fatalities, trucks cars, pedestrians and that was one of the drawbacks of being in the country, quite often if you go to an accident in an area, you tend to know the person or the family of the person.”
Ms Morris said the police family was crucial for coping with fatalities.
“You deal with it, with support from your work colleagues you deal with it.
“You never forget, I could go along the highway and tell you every place where I went to a fatal accident.
“The trick is to not dwell on it and you have the support of other police officers, being able to talk to them and have them around.
“That goes with anything in policing, there’s a lot you wouldn’t and couldn’t tell your family about, the things you’ve done and seen, you talk to other police about it, that’s purely where the police family comes in, that connection.”
Despite never physically working together for a prolonged period Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie and Senior Constable Morris said they had been colleagues for about 30 years.
“Our paths crossed numerous times throughout the state. You may only see someone once or twice every two or four years in the police, but because of that police family bond you pick up where you left off,” Senior Constable Morris said.
Assistant Commissioner McKechnie APM said she was a role model for all officers.
“I first met her when she was in HWP at Moree where she spent quite a number of years working up there, she’s always been a really committed officer who had a real passion for road safety and had a great way of dealing with people and getting that road safety message across to all motorists, particularly truck drivers.
“She did a lot of work to save lives out there on that particular road.
“She’s a really likeable person, she has a great personality which draws people to her, I’ve always enjoyed her company. She really maintained a great sense of humour and great enthusiasm even over that really long time in the job.
“Her experience in HWP and her knowledge and understanding of heavy vehicles is something we’ve tried to leverage off.
“She’s been a role model for female officers for a long time, for her length of service and the example that she set over the years for others is a great thing and something that we’ll miss.
“My admiration for her is heightened so much by her struggle that she faced with breast cancer and how she has overcome that and came back to work, it is a really fine example of what can be achieved with commitment and dedication.
“She’s moved on to other things, we wish her all the best with whatever she does.”
Senior Constable Morris said because of the support of her police family, she was able to “go back to work as if nothing had happened” in 2016 after taking time off for treatment and recovery.
“A couple of years ago  I had cancer and I had surgery, I want to thank the support I received from the police department, the police officers, for how they dealt with it.
“My family and the McGrath Foundation got me through over the couple of years and helped me in every way.
”They supported me for my entire career, not just in work but personally as well ...They were my family, not just a place of work.
“I could have kept going, but due to family commitments and our farm at Wongarbon, I chose to retire.
“One highlight was driving around in fast cars all the time, brand new cars with brand new tyres and not paying for the fuel. That was fun, i’m used to driving around in an old ute.