New police chief makes history at school

Karen Webb brought the pomp and ceremony of her swearing-in ceremony to the school where it all began - Boorowa Central, writes Pascal Adolphe.

Police chief sits on a school bench with two students on either side. Police chief sits on a school bench with two students on either side.
Image: New Police Commissioner, Karen Webb with Boorowa Central School students Digby Merriman, 7, Harper Maine, 7, Josie Munns, 6, and Grace Crawford, 7. Image: Police Media.

Students, staff at Boorowa Central School were joined this week by a host of dignitaries at the school to formally appoint one of their own to the top police job in the State.

Following a stellar 34-year career in the NSW Police force, Karen Webb, Boorowa born, bred and educated, was sworn in as the 23rd NSW Police Commissioner, and the first woman to hold the post in the 106 years since women were allowed to join the NSW police force.

The ceremony was conducted in the presence of the NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, Premier Dominic Perrottet, Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole, as well as a number of other dignitaries and senior officers.

Commissioner Webb personally chose the place that was “her school and her playground for 13 years” (or her whole school life) for her inauguration. She graduated from the Boorowa Central in 1984.

“Boorowa holds a very special place in my heart,” Commissioner Webb said. “I’m incredibly proud to see some of my former teachers here today. I can assure you that without your support and encouragement, I would not be here today in this role.”

Commissioner Webb said she was inspired to join the police force during a visit to the Boorowa police station on Australia Day 1982 to apply for her driver’s licence where she met Senior Constable John Stone.

“I was so impressed by John that day, and coupled with a recruitment pamphlet on the counter, at that moment I decided I wanted to join the NSW police force.”

Speaking at the inauguration, Boorowa Principal Graham Jones, said by choosing to have the inauguration at the school, Commissioner Webb was “opening the eyes” of every student to the possibilities that exist “beyond these school years”.

“This event will be remembered by the students for many, many years to come and could well be the catalyst to inspire some to follow in her footsteps or others to aspire to dreams that are beyond the limits of their current imagination.

“The opportunities are endless for those who dedicate themselves to their passion; as modelled by Commissioner Webb, and we sincerely thank her for including us today.”

A group of young students stand with the new police chief in front of a helicopter. A group of young students stand with the new police chief in front of a helicopter.
Image: Police Commissioner Karen Webb joked with students that she hoped the helicopters and police horses made up for her poor show and tell efforts while at school. Image: Police Media.

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley also praised Commissioner Webb’s choice of venue for the swearing-in ceremony.

“That Commissioner Webb has chosen to receive her commission here as the highest-ranking police officer in the State speaks volumes for the respect she has for this school, its students and its teachers – past and present – and for the town of Boorowa.”

Addressing the students, Ms Beazley said, “The new police commissioner today is the person you can be in the future.”

The final word at the ceremony was given to the school’s two female captains, Abby and Hannah, who said the occasion delivered the message that “opportunity and success are within our reach, and we are not limited by our size and location” – or gender.

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