Six Police Recognised In King’s Birthday Honours

A detective who has relentlessly pursued some of the state’s biggest missing person’s cases, a trailblazer for women in the force and a 42-year veteran who helped lead Victoria Police’s biggest ever corruption probe have been recognised in the King’s Birthday honours.

Six police have been awarded the Australian Police Medal.

It recognises distinguished service by a member of the force.

Acting Detective Inspector Tony Combridge, based with the Missing Persons Squad since 2020, has played a key role in the resolution of numerous high profile cases including the February 2021 disappearance of Epping mum Ju “Kelly” Zhang whose body was later found in a Wollert tip.

Acting Inspector Combridge also led the investigation into missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay, with the matter currently before the Supreme Court.

A police officer since 1990, Acting Inspector Combridge has worked in a number of general duties positions, including as officer in charge of Fawkner Police Station.

He joined the Major Fraud Group in 1995 before moving to Moreland Crime Investigation Unit and being seconded to the specialist missing persons Belier Taskforce where he quickly became known as a go-to expert for long-term disappearance cases.

He is a national leader in missing persons investigations, sharing his expertise not only within Victoria Police but with counterparts nationwide.

Acting Inspector Combridge has a compassionate approach and fervent dedication to serving the community, his contribution to missing persons investigations regarded as extensive and inspirational.

Detective Sen-Sgt Angela Hantsis has devoted her working life to solving some of Victoria’s most intriguing and complicated crimes.

She served with the Purana Taskforce for almost six years, investigating crimes related to the gangland wars, and was part of Tideland Taskforce, established in the wake of a series of violent armed robberies on banks and armoured money delivery trucks including a 1994 heist at Richmond.

Sen-Sgt Hantsis has broken new ground for women within Victoria Police, taking on roles throughout her career where females traditionally hadn’t been considered.

She joined the Missing Persons Squad in 2015 – a demanding role requiring empathy, resilience and sensitivity.

She led numerous cases including the 2016 disappearance of Chelsea Heights teenager Cayleb Hough.

Sen-Sgt Hantsis, currently based within Intelligence and Covert Support Command, also served as a senior sergeant at St Kilda Police Station during her 28-year career, where she worked with government and support organisations to address the complex needs surrounding street-level drug use and sex work.

Superintendent Murray Fraser, a police officer for 42 years, has been a champion of ethical leadership and upholding Victoria Police’s values.

He was instrumental in leading Taskforce Ceja, established in January 2002 to investigate allegations of drug-related corruption within the now disbanded Drug Squad.

It is Victoria Police’s biggest ever corruption investigation.

Seven serving police were prosecuted along with six civilians.

Superintendent Fraser, appointed to the rank in 2006 and currently chief of staff to the Deputy Commissioner Capability, has worked in numerous frontline policing roles, most of them across Melbourne’s northwest suburbs and the city.

He has also served at Crime Command including Homicide Squad at various ranks and as superintendent across numerous squads.

Superintendent Fraser was key in Victoria Police treating bullying as a criminal offence, supporting the force’s response to new laws named in honour of 19-year-old Brodie Panlock who died by suicide after enduring humiliating and intimidating behaviour from co-workers.

It saw him work extensively with Brodie’s parents in making their daughter’s legacy a reality.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Mark Galliott, for the past three years the commander in charge of policing across Melbourne’s CBD and western suburbs, has served in a multitude of operational and strategic roles over 36 years.

They include general duties, police prosecutions and policy.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Galliott is Victoria Police’s youth portfolio lead, spearheading efforts to prevent young people becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

He is responsible for delivery of the soon-to-be expanded Embedded Youth Outreach Program which sees police paired with youth workers to provide an afterhours response and referral service for vulnerable young people coming into contact with police.

The program, which began in six police service areas in August 2018, was last year awarded gold at the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Galliott, who has an extensive legal and policy background, has built strong relationships with key stakeholders as part of efforts to deal with high-harm crime and manage major community and sporting events.

He is passionate about supporting the families of police who have died in the line of duty, volunteering as a board member with Victoria Police Legacy for more than a decade where he in 2021 was elected vice chair.

Inspector Bill Duncan, who oversees the Special Operations Group and Bomb Response Unit, is known as a highly driven and motivated officer whose expertise are recognised not only within Australian policing circles but those overseas and the military.

A recipient of the prestigious Medal for Courage for his role responding to an April 2014 mass explosion that killed one man and injured two police at Derrinallum, Inspector Duncan has been involved in the supervision, planning and resolution of some of Victoria’s most dangerous investigations.

They include thwarting a $1 million armed robbery at Melbourne Airport in 1992 and the arrest of multiple figures in the gangland wars.

A 37-year veteran, Inspector Duncan has been with SOG for three decades having earlier worked as a Drug Squad detective and in general duties where he was a sergeant at Brunswick.

He holds three policing-related university bachelor degrees and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving operational safety, a legacy that will benefit officers for years to come.

Inspector Duncan has been involved in relief efforts for some of the world’s biggest natural disasters.

They include the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami which claimed an estimated 230,000 lives and the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake which destroyed 10,000 homes and killed 185 people.

Detective Superintendent Michael Sheehan has spent 28 years of his more than 40 years with Victoria Police as a detective, most recently with Counter Terrorism Command where he is the force’s representative on the high-level Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee.

It provides expert strategic national security advice while ensuring effective intelligence sharing between agencies and jurisdictions.

Superintendent Sheehan has progressed through numerous ranks within Victoria Police including the armed robbery squad, the Commonwealth/State Joint Taskforce and Drug Squad.

He was a founding member of the Crime Strategy Group, established in 2006 to co-ordinate Victoria Police’s response to emerging crime trends.

Superintendent Sheehan joined Victoria Police in 1983 and has drawn on this extensive experience in influencing change to improve community safety.

He was influential in the 2018 introduction of firearm prohibition orders which ban high-risk criminals from acquiring, possessing, carrying or using a firearm.

The changes have resulted in thousands of illegally held weapons being taken off the streets.

Superintendent Sheehan developed a tiered system which allows police statewide to categorise offences and incidents to work out who should take primacy of the investigation, while in Counter Terrorism Command he instigated a holistic process to assess and manage people of national security interest.

Quotes attributable to Acting Chief Commissioner Neil Paterson:

“Be it finding answers for the loved ones of missing people, getting to the truth of our state’s most complex crimes or going above and beyond in their everyday duties, each of these officers has served with integrity and distinction.

“Victoria Police and indeed the wider community is a better place for their contributions.

“The fact they do what they do without seeking recognition or reward makes them all the more deserving of this prestigious accolade.

“We are proud to call them part of Victoria Police.”

/Public Release. View in full here.