Kingaroy top cop talks life, leadership and coffee addiction
POLICE officers see the sorts of terrible things the majority of us will never have to encounter.
Officer-in-Charge of Kingaroy Police Station, Senior Sergeant David Tierney, has been in the job since 1985 and has experienced many highs and lows on the beat.
In this chat, he shares his thoughts on leadership, relationships and drinking too much coffee.
Matt Collins:How many coffees do you have a day?
David Tierney:It's scary. When I worked in the watch-house in Toowoomba, I'd go home and I couldn't sleep. We worked out we were having a dozen coffees a day. I limit myself to about three a day these days.
MC:Was the police always the goal?
DT:No, not really. I was going to be a maths/science teacher. But then in Year 12, a guidance counsellor had some old students come back and a fella spoke about the police and that was it.
MC:Before that, why did you enjoy maths and science?
DT:I liked the idea of teaching grades 11 and 12. They were the kids who wanted to be there and wanted to learn.
MC:Do you think you would have struggled with the other sort of kids?
DT:Well, let's just say I am in the right job now I think.
MC:You spent time as an officer on Palm Island. Were there any incidents when you felt genuinely scared?
DT:I was probably lucky. The times I was over there a third of the island was in prison. In those days, it doesn't have the police presence it has now. The biggest fellas on the island were all signed up as community police. It didn't matter how many warrants they had, as long as you knew they were behind you in a fight.
MC:The small amounts that I've seen of you with your team, you seem to be a good leader. What do you put that down to?
DT:I think I listen to people. I identify the good leaders and the good supervisors as they come through.
MC:What sorts of things are you looking for in those leaders?
DT:The ones when they tell you something that people are actually listening. They need to create, not a friendship, but a relationship with their staff.
MC:You mentioned friendship, is it possible to be a friend and as well as their boss?
DT:I'm learning to.
MC:Is there a line?
DT:Yeah, there has to be. It's like parents. They might pick on their kids, but it doesn't mean they don't love them. As I say to my kids, "I am always going to love you, but there are times I am not going to like you”.
MC:You and your wife are no longer together. You've said it was because of the job that you broke up. Why do you think you couldn't see it at the time?
DT:You kid yourself, you say, "I was a police officer before I met her, she knew what the job was”.
MC:How dare she not understand that.
DT:Yeah, how dare she. But it was selfish of me.
MC:Do you still chat to your ex?
DT:No, it was just the way it ended.
MC:Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Going back to when things were good, what do you think you could have done to keep them that way?
DT:She always wanted me to get out of the shift work side of it. But see, I loved that. I could have applied to be a lecturer at the academy, but what I like about the police service is I don't know what I am going to do when I go to work.
MC:What's next for David Tierney?
DT:I have to retire when I'm 60. That's just a thing with the police. I've got seven years to work it out.