On the blog: Community policing, a remarkable career

Image of Superintendent Corey Heldon

Superintendent Corey Heldon has been a police officer for more than 27 years. Before Superintendent Heldon joined she was working at a bank and wanted a  more interesting and challenging role, so decided to join the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and is so glad she did.

Superintendent Heldon has been managing ACT Policing’s Traffic and Emergency Management and Planning portfolio since April this year.

With a broad range of policing experience across many areas in the Australian Federal Police including policy, intelligence, learning and development, DNA Coordination, and Close Personal Protection, she has also been deployed internationally to the Bali Response Team and the Solomon Islands.

For her services, Superintendent Heldon has been awarded the Police Overseas Service Medal, National Police Service Medal, National Medal, AFP Operations Medal, AFP Service Medal and an ACT Community Policing Medal.

While I have had many opportunities to do interesting and varied work in the Australian Federal Police, my primary interest has always been in community policing. The work that ACT Policing does, is so incredibly important. The staff here work hard to keep Canberra safe and ensure that we can all continue to enjoy what this vibrant city has to offer.

The work in ACT Policing is tangible and meaningful – we can see what difference we make to the lives of the community through the work we do. The impact of that cannot be understated. There is nowhere else in the organisation where that happens like it does here. You can have a real impact. 

As a police officer, you can make a positive difference to the lives of people in your community. ACT Policing is the community policing arm of the AFP, which means when a crime is committed in the ACT you are the first point of contact.

Things have changed quite a lot since I joined. The policing environment has become more complex and, as an organisation, we play a central part in government policy across a number of different areas, particularly Counter Terrorism. While community policing remains reasonably consistent, we have developed quite a number of different strategies to deal with some of the issues we regularly face. Our staff are now much more aware of how to sensitively deal with mental health issues and family violence.

I think one of the best things about being in the AFP is the opportunity to have a diverse and rewarding career. I have had so many opportunities to take part in some very interesting work in ACT Policing, in National roles and internationally. Because we are part of the AFP it means members can have many careers in one organisation. The other key factor in this is that one area cannot operate in isolation of another.

ACT Policing is important in developing skills for members as investigators as they move into other areas, but portfolios such as Forensics, Cyber Crime, Counter Terrorism and Child Protection Operations, also provide opportunities to do important and meaningful work. As well as those areas, there are many others where members can contribute to the overall success of the organisation. I don’t know of too many other organisations in Australia where someone can work and do something as important as what we do.

If I were to give advice to women considering a career in law enforcement I would say that this is a challenging and unique job and it is entirely possible to manage all aspects of your life and still have a rewarding career. I have been fortunate that I have had the opportunity to deploy overseas with my family so we all had the experience of living in another country while I gained valuable experience and skills that I otherwise would not have had.

I work very hard at ensuring I give enough time to my family as well as committing myself to the work that I do. It is sometimes difficult but I don’t see that as being any different for anyone who has responsibilities outside of work. I believe it is important to realise that we employ people who come with a range of responsibilities, commitments and needs that we need to acknowledge and, as appropriate, accommodate. I think we are working towards that now and I think there are a range of ways to be flexible and creative in solutions to members needs when it comes to care and other outside-of-work responsibilities. I will say that having my own responsibilities outside of work allows me to be more empathetic to staff who need some flexibility.

If you are interested in a challenging, yet rewarding role, I encourage you to join the AFP.