Box Hill police officer wins disability award

Tuesday, 18 December 2018 at 2:42 am
Box Hill police officer wins disability award

A Box Hill police officer’s innovative thinking has been recognised for making a meaningful difference to a community member with a disability.

Senior Constable Anthony Downing was presented with Scope’s See the person Award at their Annual Awards earlier this month for his interactions with John, a Big Issue seller and wheelchair user, who has been a repeated victim of theft.

Acting Inspector of Eastern Region Wayne Williams said he is proud of Sen Const Downing and that he is a role model to his police colleagues.

“Sen Const Downing is a leading police officer for a number of community engagement activities, but his efforts in helping John go well beyond the expectations of his role,” he said.

“After hearing about John’s repeated experiences as a victim of theft while selling the Big Issue, Sen Const Downing spent many hours in his own time building him a device to securely store money in his wheelchair,” Acting Inspector Williams said.

“Compared to the clear container John previously used to store his earnings, the new solution helps conceal the money to prevent future opportunistic thefts.

“This example highlights that a bit of problem solving and thinking outside the box can have a significant, positive impact on members of our community.

“Sen Const Downing always showed compassion and patience when John came into the police station to report the thefts.

“He used verbal cues to make the process easier and less daunting for John, who is limited in his ability to expressively communicate.”

Sen Const Downing says he feels humbled to receive the award.

“I was shocked when I first heard about John’s experiences,” Sen Const Downing said.

“We gathered all the necessary information to investigate but in addition to this, I wanted to do something to make John feel more confident in the street.

“I wanted to make him a secure container that is accessible to John that aims to help prevent further theft. Hearing about the difference it has made to his confidence has made it all worth it and I hope others are now inspired to make change for the better.”

Sen Cons Downing was also awarded the Office of the Public Advocate’s Ben Bodna Award for Exceptional Leadership at Victoria Police’s event to mark International Day for Persons with Disabilities on Monday 3 December.

More than 100 Victoria Police employees and community members gathered to mark the occasion, recognise excellence and celebrate diversity.