“The community owns the NSW Police Force, not me” - NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione
All eyes turned to New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione during the terrifying Sydney siege at the end of last year.
Though there were two casualties police were able to get the other 15 hostages out safely. The Commissioner said after the incident: "I don't think this could have been done any better anywhere else in the world by any other group."
Since joining the police force in 1980 and becoming NSW's 21st Police Commissioner in 2007, Andrew has been awarded the Australian Police Medal and the National Medal.
Andrew's first priority is to serve the community relying on him for their safety.
"The community owns the NSW Police Force, not me," Andrew told a Strength and Courage seminar for defence personnel in Canberra in 2013. "I'll own it one day, when I hang up my uniform and take a pension – that's when I'll own it because then I'll become solely a citizen.
"That's when I'll have a guiding interest that comes from a desire for my state and my family to be kept as safe and secure as we can be. Until then, I'm in service to you."
There is, however, one he serves even above the people he is responsible for.
"It's the God who delivered me when I was a 14 year old boy," Andrew explains, "who had His hand on my life before I was born, before I knew Him. He took me through the loss of a father. He took me through a marriage, which then grew into a responsibility as a father for my own children."
Though originally from the UK, Andrew grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney.
He began attending a local youth group when he was 10 years old, at the recommendation of a neighbour.
There he met young Christian men and women who "didn't have it all together, but had something I didn't have." As he observed them Andrew realised he wanted it too.
“I went from a boy to a man overnight”"At 14 I made the decision to give my heart to Jesus Christ after a youth Bible study night. I can still see the chair that I sat in when I made the decision," he recalls.
Andrew soon discovered that being a Christian enabled him to face sad times with God's strength. Three months after deciding to follow Jesus, his father died and he was left to take care of his mother on his own.
"I went from being a boy to a man overnight. Although I wouldn't know it then, I was so blessed that I had God there behind me."
Andrew experienced support from the men in his Church, who mentored, comforted and taught him the way his father no longer could.
"These Christian men were the role models in my life that I know made the difference. They were the men that taught me," Andrew says.
To this day, Andrew struggles to understand how "a kid who came here in a boat as a baby" could now be "in charge of the biggest police force in Australia and probably in the Western World".
"When I consider my career, the role of Commissioner of Police wasn't necessarily a goal that I had. But looking back, God's plan is clearer now – I was placed into that position more as a ministry than as a job," Andrew says.
Alongside his wife of 35 years, Joy, Andrew seeks to lead by example and serve the members of his state in every possible way, never losing sight of the one he truly serves. •