AT JUST 19 years old, Adrian Telfer made the decision to join the NSW Police Force with no expectations of what the future may hold.
Now, 21 years on, the detective inspector is ready to close the book on a chapter of his career where he spent his final years making Wagga a safer place.
From investigations into terrorist threats to assisting in the recovery of murdered woman Allecha Boyd's body, Detective Inspector Telfer has seen it all, good and bad.
"I knew other people from school joining the police, so I thought I'd give it a crack, and then 12 months later I graduated from Goulburn Police Academy," he said.
"My very first shift as a police officer was at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games in Martin Place, which was pretty crazy, I'd never seen a crowd like it before."
For his first posting, the young cop spent the next four years stationed at Redfern, which proved to be a "crazy learning experience".
"Redfern was one of the most, if not the most, accessible locations in Australia to get heroin at the time," he said.
"What came with that was a huge influx of crime from Greater Sydney as people were continuously jumping on trains to come in and score.
"The impact heroin had on people, people who lived there and were stolen from, it was insane, and such an eye-opener because I wasn't from Sydney, I'd never had any exposure to drugs, and here I was working as a 20-year-old in one of most populated heroin locations in the country."
Keen to take his career to the next level, Detective Inspector Telfer then moved on to the Australian Federal Police's counter terrorism unit as an investigator.
"That's where I did my detective course, which was a big milestone, but also at the time Strike Force Pendennis was established," he said.
The strike force, established in 2004, ended up becoming the largest criminal investigation in Australian history at the time, resulting in a series of arrests between November 2005 and March 2006.
Terrorism charges were brought against 13 suspects in Melbourne and nine in Sydney, leading to the conviction of 18 men who were planning to carry out violence against the Australian government.
Members of the group in Sydney had amassed firearms, ammunition, detonators, chemicals, laboratory equipment and bomb-making instruction manuals by the time of their conviction.
"That was a covert operation, we had to work with Victorian and NSW Police and it was a really long job," Detective Inspector Telfer said.
"I was in that unit for five years and only worked on two jobs, with the other being Operation Neath investigating people from Melbourne looking to cause harm at a defence facility in Sydney."
While incredibly intense, the detective said it was interesting to watch the operation go from early stages in the investigation through to a solution.
"It wasn't long after 9/11 either, so terrorism - particularly in Australia - was all somewhat new," he said.
In 2009, a new chapter opened for Detective Inspector Telfer, but it had a familiarity to it.
"I went back to Redfern as a uniform Sergeant, and it was just incredible to see the change post-riots," he said.
The 2004 Redfern riots sparked from the death of 17-year-old Thomas 'TJ' Hickey after a bike accident which many speculated to have involved police.
"It was an entirely different place by 2009, and all for the better," he said.
"The Block, Eveleigh Street, had its history wiped in terms of drugs and crime, it was just gone.
"We went from having police cars getting smashed with bricks and bottles, often while you're still in the car, to coming back after the riots and being able to park the marked police car down there and leave it."
Tweed Heads then welcomed Detective Inspector Telfer where he got his first taste of "country style policing", before moving to Wagga in 2016.
"This has genuinely been the most enjoyable time in my career," he said.
"I've loved it, I really have, and working the whole time under Superintendent Bob Noble has been incredible.
"He's the strongest leader I've seen in the NSW Police and just a great bloke, very knowledgeable, I've been like a sponge learning off him."
But like all good things, his time as the Crime Manager with the Riverina Police District is coming to an end, ahead of a new journey with the Australian Federal Police.
"It wasn't an easy decision to leave at all, it's been incredibly hard," he said.
"But I think it's good to move after about four or five years, because you diversify your skills in a different environment with different people, and when you're out of your comfort zone, that's when you learn the most."
Having tipped the scales at more than half his life in policing, Detective Inspector Telfer reflected back on the work he'd dedicated those two decades to.
"Pendennis was definitely the most important job I ever worked on, but the saddest would have to be when I was at Tweed Heads and two skydivers got tangled up and died in 2012," he said.
"It was a trick that went pear-shaped, just a tragic accident."
The most rewarding case came during his time in Wagga, though.
"Discovering Allecha Boyd's body, that was definitely something that made me proud of my team," the crime manager said.
"I came in late on that case, but to see the investigators on it from the start achieve what they were there to do was very satisfying as a manager."
Being a police officer in any capacity is a challenging role, mentally and physically, which Detective Inspector Telfer said only grew more difficult after decades on the job.
Although moving on, he said two cases would forever stick in his mind.
"Not knowing who the driver was who killed Braydon Worldon at Wantabadgery really disturbs me, leaving without finding the answer is incredibly disappointing," he said.
"The other is not knowing what happened to Ruth Ridely, it's hard to leave without a conclusion to that."
With just a couple of weeks left in Wagga, Detective Inspector Telfer said he had only one request of people, not just in the city, but across the state.
"It would be nice for the public to see how hard our police officers work, and how decent human beings they are," he said.
"It's regrettable that people just see the uniform and don't see the people behind it, so if I could change one thing, it would be to have the public understand what we are actually like, and realise that we genuinely care about the jobs we go to.
"We're more than just people in a uniform."
That respect for his team and dedication to the community is something the Riverina Police District will miss.
Commander Bob Noble said they will "feel his departure quite significantly".
"Adrian is completely and thoroughly a decent human being, he really is a stand up guy with strong people skills, a deep care for his troops, for the community and for the mission," he said.
Praising the detective inspector's expertise in complex criminal investigations and management, Superintendent Noble said his skill set went above and beyond expectations.
"Adrian understood the broader mission for police in keeping people safe, he knew that it wasn't just about getting evidence and dealing with court matters, and that it was also about road safety, disaster response, alcohol related crimes and road trauma," he said.
But above all of the professional qualities, Superintendent Noble said he had also gained a lifelong friend.
"He's such a professional and such a decent, respectful person, so you can't help but admire him and accept that friendship," he said.
"I will personally miss him a lot."
Detective Inspector Telfer had a "bigger, brighter future ahead", according to the Commander.
"We were never going to be able to hang onto him here, he's too good to remain at the rank he is, and when the time came for him to be promoted, it would have probably been somewhere else anyway," he said.
"But, the Federal Police reaches into all corners of the globe, it dives into other areas of law enforcement, so I'm very excited for him and what his future holds."
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