When a man armed with a gun walked into a bank nearly 30 years ago, a young worker knew he was the type of person who wanted to stop him.
NSW officers had gone to the Wagga bank before the incident to warn staff members of a possible stick-up at the premises.
They were right.
The robber walked into the Westpac building armed with a gun, which was pointed at staff who handed over cash.
Police quickly caught the man outside.
Graeme Simpfendorfer was one of the employees working that day in 1993 and, while he already had an interest in law and order with other family members working in police forces, it sparked his decision to sign up as an officer.
"I really made my mind up, that I wanted to be on the other side of what was going on that day," he said.
"I wanted to support the other staff, seeing how nervous they were.
"I had something in me where I was able to remain calm and focused through that.
"I thought, 'I might actually be good at policing' and pushed through with the application.
"I knew I wanted to do that sort of work."
Mr Simpfendorfer packed his bags and headed to Melbourne to train as an officer in 1994, and stayed in the job until his recent retirement as the head of the Wodonga Crime Investigation Unit.
In a long and varied career, he started in general duties and road policing before becoming a detective and moving into the Homicide Squad, where he worked alongside decorated investigators including Ron Iddles, Charlie Bezzina, Rowland Legg and Lucios Rovis.
"I'd worked hard to get the qualities required to go into homicide," he said.
"They were detectives who had been there a long time and I made sure I learnt as much as I could from all those very respected and senior investigators.
"They showed that being the ultimate professional is the best way.
"Ron Iddles has his ABC of policing - assume nothing, believe nothing, check everything.
"But it's also about respect.
"There's nothing more serious than investigating the death of another human being, it demanded professionalism.
"I thrived on that, leaving no stone unturned.
"I was pretty young, pretty green, and to learn off all those experiences around me really forged my career."
Perhaps unsurprisingly given his experience at the Wagga bank years earlier, he moved to the Armed Crime Taskforce to investigate high level robberies involving guns.
It was intense, high pressure work.
Violent crooks were targeting pokies venues and similar properties when he joined, sometimes with shots fired and in some cases where people were killed.
The risk was not only to those inside, but to the police who responded.
"I guess looking back, I was doing exactly what I wanted to achieve from when I was a young fella on the other side of the teller," Mr Simpfendorfer said.
"History does show that a lot of incidents where police have been shot have derived from armed robbery investigations, like the Gary Silk and Rodney Miller murders.
"It was high pressure work, very intense.
"It was very violent offending.
"We worked closely with homicide at the time if a robbery had gone wrong and someone had been murdered."
A series of armed robberies in Melbourne stuck with the officer years after they occurred.
He wasn't an original investigator into the meticulously planned incidents, including one in Richmond on June 22, 1994, in which a Armaguard van with $2.32 million in cash was stolen.
A gang of men posed as road workers and stole the vehicle near the Nylex sign off Punt Road.
But he did join Operation Tideland to look at the case and multiple other major robberies.
Even after moving to Wodonga in 2008 to work as a sergeant, he continued to investigate the matter.
In May this year, almost 27 years after the sophisticated incident, Pasquale Lanciana was found guilty during a trial in the County Court.
He was jailed in September for at least 10 years over his role in the incident, which the court heard had left the victims traumatised.
"This was a criminal enterprise that required meticulous planning, preparation and military style precision," judge Michael O'Connell said.
Those who worked with Mr Simpfendorfer said his investigations were similarly meticulous.
"He's a very good operator," his former homicide boss Jeff Maher said.
"He's very tenacious, a very good investigator.
"It's a shame he's going."
Mr Simpfendorfer took over from longtime Wodonga Crime Investigation Unit boss Peter Revell after his retirement in 2013, having moved to the region in 2008 to work as a uniform sergeant and in sex offence and child abuse investigations.
His boss, Detective Senior Sergeant Garry Barton said he would be missed.
"We're very thankful for his service," he said.
"He's a valued investigator."
Mr Simpfendorfer said the move to Wodonga had seen him investigating everything from stock thefts to kidnappings, home invasions and arson attacks.
"The diversity of what I was doing was intriguing ... it's a search for the truth and solving a puzzle," he said.
"That's what motivated me all the time."
But after nearly 30 years in a job entangled with repetitive trauma, the former detective sergeant decided it was the right time to leave.
"I never thought I'd leave policing - I thought I'd do it for 40 years," he said.
"But at some point you've got to know what's best for yourself.
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"There are a lot of police who suffer PTSD and I'm not immune to that, and I realised it was time for a change."
Even those on the other side of the law have contacted him since his retirement was announced to say he treated them with respect during their worst times.
The father-of-three and deputy mayor wants to spend more time with his family and will move into private investigations, particularly in the specialist field of fire investigations and finding people who don't want to be found.
Detectives Ray Causer and Tracy Jarrott worked with him for years and said he would be hard to replace.
"Simpf was a great boss, colleague and friend," Detective Jarrott said.
"There will be big shoes to fill for the next detective sergeant of the Wodonga Crime Investigation Unit, as Simpf will be missed."
Detective Causer said his boss was relentless, determined and thorough.
"He will be hard to replace," he said.
Mr Simpfendorfer said he would miss working with his former colleagues but was looking forward to what comes next.
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