Nations at the station
In country policing your colleagues often become like your family but for the Bridgetown officer-in-charge and one of his officers, it takes on a literal meaning.
For the past two years, OIC Phil Nation has worked with his daughter Laura.
Having grown up watching her dad work in policing and seeing the friends he made, following in the same line of work is all she wanted to do.
“I always loved the idea of the job, my mum was horrified as I’m an only child but she’s very proud,” she said.
As far as they are aware, Phil and Laura are the only father/daughter pair that have ever worked at Bridgetown Police Station.
It took a while for the two of them to be based at the same station.
When Laura graduated from the police academy, she called her dad to tell him she had an opportunity to go to Bunbury, where he was stationed at the time, and he encouraged her to take it.
“I rang Dad when I got the position and he said ‘that’s great, I got Kununurra’,” she said.
While Phil had tried to convince Laura he applied for the position after he heard about her applying for Bunbury, she realised he had applied before she called him.
When Laura started at the station, Phil left about a week later for his posting 3400km away.
“It’s always important to keep a Nation at the station,” he said.
They both laughed at the fact that he could not have chosen a position further away from his daughter if he tried.
Laura was at Bunbury Police Station for about three years before she moved to Bridgetown, where Phil had been for about 18 months at that stage.
“Bridgetown is awesome, it’s a good town with a good community,” Phil said.
“It’s a different kind of policing, you may not go from job to job to job, but that gives you a chance to adopt and develop relationships in the town.”
Laura said she loved being able to visit schools to interact with students, whether it be for information talks about the dangers of drugs and alcohol or just to support them during sport carnivals.
“The kids always come up to us and talk to us,” she said.
“We’ve had a lot of students, especially girls, interested in becoming police officers and it’s nice they can talk to me about it.”
While Kununurra was a shift supervisor and acting OIC position, Bridgetown is the first full-time OIC position Phil has had.
Having grown up around her dad’s friends and visiting his work, both he and Laura did not have any trouble switching from father/daughter mode to colleague mode.
“While I worry about all my staff to a certain extent when they’re going to a job, but you’re a parent first and of course I worry about her safety,” he said.
“But that’s the job we do, we have to understand the good and the bad – but I still feel the pinch as a parent.”
The first time Laura slipped and called Phil her dad on the job in public was about a week into her moving to Bridgetown and the officers were out at a truck rollover on the Balingup hill.
“There was a bunch of workers on the road trying to get this truck cleared and Dad was in the middle of the road and there was a truck coming,” she said.
“He hadn’t seen it because his back was turned and I was panicking and didn’t know what to say so I shouted ‘Dad, move, there’s a truck coming’.
“All these workers were looking around trying to figure out who I was talking about.
“It hadn’t been natural to say ‘Sergeant’ or ‘Phil’, it was just ‘Dad’.”
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