A pioneering career
Inspector Lyn Jones was a pioneer when it came to the integration of women in Tasmania Police, receiving a national award for her work in advancing the role of women.
When she received the award for her “outstanding work and pioneering career” in 2006 from the Australasian Council of Women and Policing (ACWAP), then Commissioner Richard McCreadie said: “She is tireless in her efforts to promote women’s issues and to ensure women in Tasmania Police have career paths to follow which will provide them with worthwhile challenges.”
As an only child raised solely by her father from the age of one month until she was eight years old, young Lyn felt she was destined to enter the police service.
“I thought I was a boy as my father was the only figure I had in the first eight years of my life. I remember my father purchasing me a Hop-along Cassidy cowboy suit which had two guns on each side; he had to peel that suit off me. Policing was always something that I wanted to do.”
In 1979, Lyn was sworn in under her maiden name, Constable Sadleir.
Lyn was promoted to Sergeant in 1991 and Inspector in 1997. It was some years after that a second female Inspector of Police was appointed. During these times, and many years prior to 1991, the service was bereft of female role models.
“It was vital to have women at management level, otherwise decision-making is based on male values and does not take into account the female perspective. The absence of women managers as role models acts as a subconscious reinforcement to many women of their ‘unsuitability’ for particular roles in the service.
“I would have benefited from a senior female role model or one of equal rank; it was quite lonely. I had some wonderful male mentors but I was reluctant to share my doubts concerning my perceived lack of ability. The occasions to network were also very limited. As often the only female on courses, particularly promotional courses, I was frequently left to myself, only to find
out the following day that groups of men had studied together and discussed the following day’s expectations.”
Lyn spent 11 years working in the Criminal Investigation Branch, and in various squads including Drugs, General, Vice, Fraud and Child Protection and two additional years in the Internal Investigation Branch as she worked her way through the ranks to become a Commissioned Officer.
She described acts of discrimination and sexism from some male colleagues which related to her while serving in the CIB, and in later years she witnessed discrimination against other younger females who were starting to be transferred into the Branch.
Her nomination to the rank of Senior Constable in 1988 was challenged by a male colleague, with a gender related issue being part of that challenge.
On another occasion, despite passing the Selection Board to be nominated to the rank of Sergeant, a male member of the Board noted that she “was arrogant” and she wondered if the same comment would be made of a male who presented in a confident manner.
“I was quite shocked to read that comment some years later. I went into that interview very confident, which was unusual for me, as I had prepared thoroughly, and then to read that I was arrogant, I do not believe that I have ever been arrogant, but I have always doubted my ability,” she said.
Lyn accomplished some significant achievements during her time in CIB. She received a Commissioner’s Commendation for her work on the high profile murder of Maureen Thompson by her husband Rory Jack Thompson in 1983.
Lyn was also highly commended for courage, calmness and professionalism in the apprehension of a severely disturbed offender at Moonah in 1991.
“I confronted the gunman who had gone to the Blundstone Factory armed with a rifle to shoot his partner who worked there,” Lyn recalled.
“When my colleague and I arrived we were told via Communications that the manager had secured the offender inside his office. But whilst I was listening to this news, I saw the offender walking down a laneway towards my car door.
“I took possession of my loaded pistol, which was in my handbag in those days and, as he came straight towards me, I got out of the car. I had my gun drawn and pointed at him and he had his rifle levelled right in my face. We were within inches of one another. It reminded me of a Mexican standoff. Unbeknownst to me, two off duty Special Operations Group members had heard the radio and attended the scene and were taking cover behind a paling fence 40 feet or so behind our police car. Both were hesitant to shoot because of the fear of hitting me, but a split second opportunity
was presented and they both shot the offender. I was astonished at how calm I was because I kept thinking that if I shoot him, his reflex action would see him pulling the trigger and killing me,” she said.
She was commended for her work on the Port Arthur Taskforce in 1996.
In 2001, Lyn was awarded the Australian Police Medal, of which she is very proud.
In 2002 Lyn represented Australia at the International Policewomen’s Conference in South Korea, honouring the 56th anniversary of the Women Police Force in Korea. She presented a paper outlining the progression of policewomen and the strategies implemented to improve the culture of policing in Australia.
Lyn was the Tasmanian representative on the Australasian Commissioners’ Women in Policing Committee for nine years and she used her position to select women to attend the various national conferences and deliver a presentation, thereby exposing them to the national stage.
Lyn was also on the Recruitment Board for many years.
Lyn retired in 2008 after a stellar 29 year career, with Commissioner Darren Hine thanking her for her contribution and stating that he hoped “those who follow in your footsteps will uphold your values”.
Lyn, who has mentored a number of successful policewomen over the years, has some important advice for young women officers keen on rising through the ranks.
“They have to work extremely hard and most women who want to progress in their career do commit themselves 110%. The other issue is that women need to support other women. The Inspectors need to mentor the women coming through, as well as support each other. Where I had to rely on valued male mentors, these women are fortunate to have the opportunity to be mentored by senior female role models.”