YOU’D expect the local newspaper to say that one of its own has done a great job.
But on the occasion of Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay’s departure yesterday, the praise for a job well done has been universal.
You only need to recall what a state of upheaval the police force and the community was in prior to Mr Lay’s ascendency, as a result of the controversy over Simon Overland’s tenure and departure, but also the criticism and acrimony which, rightly or wrongly, dogged his predecessor, Christine Nixon’s career.
The inquiries, the claims and counterclaims and all the rest that followed only served to take everyone’s eye off the ball and Ken Lay came in and created an environment where the police could simply get on with their jobs again.
It would have been enough if that was all he did but he was a leader who also sought to make a difference in a job where it often pays to keep your head down.
Not only did he personally champion the cause of stopping violence against women, something for which he will always be remembered with great fondness by the community, but he also sought to put the government on notice about bringing the police force into the 21st century.
It’s a challenge that he laid firmly at the feet of Daniel Andrews yesterday as he emotionally announced his intentions and we’ll be watching to see what Mr Andrews and those that follow him do with that challenge.
You’d be a fool to think that the police catch all criminals and detect all crime, equally you’d be stupid to think that there aren’t problems within the force, but there’s little doubt that Ken Lay did a lot to restore the community’s confidence in the ‘thin blue line’ while at the same time giving police members cause to feel proud of the work they do on our behalf.
More than anything, he brought common sense back to the role, while also trusting his assistant commissioners to lead in their respective sections.
Ken gave his reasons for leaving at this time, and we accept that, but we wouldn’t like to think that politics may also have played a hand.
Reports are that there has been a particularly savage purge of the public service since the Andrews Government arrived but as the vote taken in the Upper House last week indicates (electing the Coalition’s Bruce Atkinson as President), Mr Andrews is not going to have it all his own way over the next four years.
That aside, Ken Lay has done a great job for the state, he’s done his home town of Korumburra proud and we wish him and his family all the best for the future.
Ken Lay an ornament to the force – SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT