After three years general duties policing, police officers have the opportunity to specialise. They may continue in operational policing as General Duties officers, or undertake further training and transfer into one of the many and varied specialist areas.
Between 1946 and 1950, the original Police Air Wing was used to transport detectives and investigators to scenes of crime in rural parts of the state.
The Police Air Wing was reformed in 1978 and today provides state-wide assistance in all areas of the NSW Police Force including search and rescue, drug detection and high visibility policing.
Each aircraft is fitted with a variety of electronic equipment, radios, search lights, cameras and rescue equipment.
- Find out more about the Aviation Support Branch (Air Wing)
- Watch the Air Wing in action on the NSW Police Force YouTube Channel
Bicycle patrols are used to proactively target identified crime "hot spots". Use of bicycles in policing increases visibility, improves access to some restricted areas, provides the ability to operate with surprise and stealth, as well as being environmentally friendly.
Police cyclists must be physically and mentally fit for the rigorous combination of riding and policing.
The mountain bike is suitable for police operations as it is smaller and tougher than most other styles of bike, has wider wheel rims and tyres and is designed to give maximum comfort over a wide variety of road surfaces.
Detectives are based at Local Area Commands and the State Crime Command. Duties of a detective include: leading an investigation; building close relationships with victims and their families; interviewing witnesses; taking statements; conducting searches; and working with other specialist police.
Ultimately detectives arrest, interview, charge suspects and put them before the court.
To become a Detective a police officer must work for two to three years in general duties and then complete the Investigators Course, followed by the 12-month Detectives Education Program.
The Police Dog Unit initially existed in NSW between 1935 to 1953 and was reintroduced in 1979. The unit was established to support police in locating offenders and missing persons, detaining fleeing criminals and detecting drugs and firearms.
Dogs used for patrol duties are German Shepherds or Rottweilers. The Labrador retriever is the breed of choice for specialist detection. The unit has helped search for survivors of the Thredbo disaster and helped to ensure the security of the Sydney Olympic Games.
- Find out more about the Dog Unit
- Watch the Dog Unit in action on the NSW Police Force YouTube Channel
Duties of a Forensic Investigator at a scene include searching, recording, collecting and examining physical evidence.
Forensic investigators attend crimes such as robberies, assaults, fires and suspicious deaths. Forensic examination of a crime scene involves two main disciplines - fingerprints and physical evidence.
Forensic Investigators are required to complete a Diploma in Forensic Science through the Canberra Institute of Technology.
The role of Highway Patrol (HWP) police is to reduce road trauma and allow the free movement of traffic and people. They encourage safer road-user behaviour and compliance with traffic laws through high visibility policing. Fully marked Highway Patrol sedans and motor cycles are used for this purpose.
Other equipment used by HWP includes:
- Mobile Radar Units
- Lidar Laser Units
- Vehicle Mounted Speed Cameras
- Handheld Breath Testing Devices
- Purpose-built RBT Trucks
Founded in September 1825, the Mounted Police were recruited from a British military regiment stationed in NSW at the time to protect travellers and suppress convict escapees. For over a century they were a key part of policing as horses were the main form of transport.
Duties include traffic and crowd management, patrols, and ceremonial protocol duties.
The 34 horses used today are bay geldings, 16 hands high and include a number of ex-race horses. They are between three and seven years old when received and retire at about 20 years of age.
Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal Unit
NSW Police Rescue celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2002.
Duties of Police Rescue include:
- Rescue of people or domestic animals from actual or threatened danger of physical harm.
- Rescue from heights, depths, and confined spaces.
- Search for missing bushwalkers / land search.
- Provide lighting and searching of Crime Scenes.
Police Rescue have played an important role in: Wanda Beach murders - beach excavation (1966), Granville Train Disaster (1977), Newcastle earthquake (1989), Thredbo landslide (1997), Search for missing snowboarders (1999), Waterfall Train Disaster (2003).
Water Police (Marine Area Command)
The original Water Police was developed in 1789 when Governor Phillip established the "Row Boat Guard" with 12 well behaved convicts.
In 1862 the Water Police became part of the NSW Police Force. It now includes a Diving Unit and Marine Investigation Group.
Water Police attend marine related crimes and vessels in distress, as well as coordinating marine search and rescue. It now has one of the most modern fleets of ocean going vessels in Australia and covers the area from the Queensland to Victorian borders, up to 200 nautical miles out to sea.