One of the Hunter's most experienced police officers will retire on Thursday, calling time on a 40-year career.
Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell will march out of Newcastle Police Station to a guard of honour to mark his final day on the job - in a career that has taken him to the senior ranks of NSW Police.
Growing up in the Newcastle area as the son of a cop - his dad Eric was a Chief Inspector on the Central Coast - Mr Mitchell joined the force after high school. A decline in the economy around the time he was looking to enter the workforce - meaning there were few apprenticeships on offer - made it a clear choice for the young man.
Since then, Mr Mitchell has climbed the ranks and will retire as commander of the NSW Police Northern Region, which stretches from the Hawkesbury to the Queensland border.
A love of Newcastle meant that Mr Mitchell has spent most of his career based in the Hunter area - and when he has spent time working in Sydney he has only lived as far away as the Central Coast.
He was instrumental in the formation of the Transport Command, which polices public transport, and led a group from NSW on a mission to Christchurch to help with the disaster recovery effort after the deadly 2011 earthquake.
"When we arrived, within 72 hours, it truly was like a war zone," he told the Newcastle Herald when reflecting on his career this week.
"The devastation was incredible.The level of thanks from the Christchurch people - even to this day, if they knew you were involved in the earthquake support they have nothing but high esteem and kind words to say."
Though he did not initially seek leadership roles, Mr Mitchell found himself attracted to positions in which he could help his fellow officers.
The outgoing Assistant Commissioner believes his experience on the frontline helped him learn how to support young police who were going through tough or traumatic events - such as occasions where officers made "the hardest decision they'll ever have to make" in firing their gun at someone.
He recalled a time in the early 1990s in Newcastle East, when he was a negotiator trying to convince a woman to free her male hostage. The stand-off ended in a bloody way, but everyone survived.
"She was actually stabbing the male with a long carving knife," he said.
"She stabbed him and before she stabbed him again, we had to shoot her. I could see what was happening and I'd spoken to one of the other officers to hand me their revolver if he needed to. Thankfully, he said 'no'.
"It was pretty traumatic."
In retirement, the 58-year-old says he plans to surf and play golf more often and spend time with family - particularly his 11-month-old grandson.
Mr Mitchell said he was happy to be retiring at a time when the region's crime trends had been "the best our community has seen in many, many years".
"I've never regretted one day," he said.
"There have been some ups and downs, of course, but if you turned back the clock I'd do it all again."
- There will be changed traffic and parking conditions on Church Street, outside Newcastle Police Station, on Thursday while the retirement celebrations take place. There will be a temporary pop-up police station for members of the public on Watt Street between 11am and 2.15pm.
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