Former police officer Sgt Peter Bennet hands his hat and badge into Sgt Hayley Skyring at the Hervey Bay police station.
Former police officer Sgt Peter Bennet hands his hat and badge into Sgt Hayley Skyring at the Hervey Bay police station. Alistair Brightman

Hervey Bay officer steps away from thin blue line

ONE of Hervey Bay's longest serving and most respected police officers is clocking off to literally follow the Yellow Brick Road.

For the first time in almost 30 years, Sergeant Peter Bennet may have just got his work/life balance right, swapping his blue uniform for a role as a lending specialist with the company headed by financial entrepreneur Mark Bouris.

It's a big change for the father of six who has dedicated much of his life and career to serving the community.

Handing in his hat and badge at the weekend, Sgt Bennet reflected on his career which began just before the tumultuous Fitzgerald Inquiry, found its grounding in a country town and eventually settled in Hervey Bay which at the time had no traffic lights and very little crime but would one day produce many a challenge and fond memory.

There are of course the "things that never leave you" - being first on the scene to a horror fatal plane crash at Howard and "standing next to a father and telling him his teenager had just been killed in a car crash" are among the more difficult memories.

But for Sgt Bennet, the good outweighed the bad.

Known for making the time to guide young recruits, Sgt Bennet said if there was one thing he could pass on to aspiring police officers, it would be to not just work for a community but to genuinely become part of it, get involved in local groups and attend events, so you understand the people you will be called on to help.

Asked what had driven him to serve for so long, Sgt Bennet said mateship and support from his colleagues had also played an enormous role but it was his family who had been his biggest source of strength.

"I couldn't sign off without paying tribute to my children and in particular my wife Julie who has put up with the long hours and night shifts over the years," Sgt Bennet said.

"I am very grateful and look forward to this next chapter of my life."