Cairns Policewomen inspiring change – Heidi Marek Cairns Crime Prevention Officer!
In the last profile of our Policewomen Inspiring Change series, I have managed to bail up Senior Constable Heidi Marek, to provide an insight into her career.
Heidi made the decision to make the move from her home in Kalgoorlie, WA to join the Queensland Police.
In December 2001, she took up her first posting in Cairns and this is pretty much where she has stayed.
Heidi’s managed to cram in quite a bit into her 13 year career.
She has performed First Response duties in Cairns, Watchhouse duties, Cairns Traffic Branch and she now works in the Cairns Crime Prevention Office.
Heidi has relieved in the role of Acting Sergeant a number of times and has tackled an administrative role as a District Support Officer.
I quizzed her on what her career highlight was and she said, “Gosh where to start, it’s hard to pick out highlights. The following are probably more ‘standouts’ for me.
I received four separate doses of secondary capsicum sprays in my first 6 months on the job.
My team got used to seeing me walk in the station all red faced and covered in capsicum spray.”
It was less than a week when Heidi worked had an epiphany that this was definitely the career for her. It took a few days before he partner was ready for her to drive the patrol car, but her first drive was rudely interrupted.
She and her partner needed to deploy ‘capsicum’ spray during an arrest of a man. During the arrest, he managed to wipe secondary residue from the ‘capsicum’ spray into Heidi’s eyes and after some quick first aid, she was back behind the wheel again and transporting him back to the police station.
This would normally be a relatively simple task, but it soon escalated into hard work when the man smashed the rear window of the police car.
Shattered glass sprayed Heidi and her partner before the man took off like a shot, scrambled out the broken window, over the boot and along Mulgrave Road.
Heidi and her partner took off like jack rabbits and quickly apprehended the man. Needless to say there were some bewildered faces around the station when she and her partner arrived at the station with their man, covered in capsicum spray and broken glass. Then they had to explain the broken rear window in the police car.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have to request for urgent assistance in my first week. Since then, this job has always delivered as there is never a dull moment,” she said.
As a junior Constable, Heidi was given a number of not so pleasant jobs to do. One of which she recounts spending four long days in one of our remote Cape communities after a serious traffic crash.
“Part of my job was to preserve a crime scene which was being examined. I was armed and had to spend my shift guarding the crime scene and protecting it from feral pigs.
We were out in the middle of the bush and there were heaps of noises that went bump in he night.
It was hard work trying to stay awake listening to all the ‘exciting’ stories my partner was telling me”, Senior Constable Marek said.
Over the years, Heidi has had her fair share of admirers, but she fondly remembers one time when she was asked to deliver a talk to a group of children at a Kindergarten about the importance of calling triple zero ‘000’ in an emergency.
Obviously she was a hit, as one of the kids, a little 3-year-old boy called triple zero and wanted to speak with Constable Heidi. His emergency was that he needed to speak to Heidi to invite her to his birthday party. How cute!
She said, “I often laugh to myself when I think about this beautiful little boy. He’d be a teenager by now and may think differently about inviting me to his next party.”
Heidi works with me in the Cairns Crime Prevention office, along with Senior Constable Russ Parker. I plucked up the courage to ask Heidi what path she wanted to go down career wise.
It was not meant to be a trick question, I must admit, she didn’t answer under duress.
She said, “I am way too happy where I am right now to even think about a future away from this office
I never want to leave here and I don’t want my two wonderful colleagues to move on either, I would be lost without them.”
What great staff I have! After a wrap like that, I think I’ll have to keep her.
In all seriousness though, Heidi does an amazing job juggling her career, children and husband’s shift and on call work.
The QPS is flexible and allows Heidi and many other officers to work part time in their chosen roles. She currently works four days a week, but I know she works many more hours to ensure her ever growing portfolio of specialist jobs is completed.
Heidi co-ordinates the Neighbourhood Watch program, Adopt-a-Cop and Adopt-a-School programs and the Station Community Crime Reduction Officers.
She also does presentations, media interviews, provides training, promotes crime prevention initiatives and posts blogs on this site.
Heidi’s work ethic and professionalism is beyond reproach. She consistently works hard to promote a numbe of crime prevention initiatives throughout the community and encourages her NHW groups to implement new strategies to target both property crime and personal safety.
Heidi editing our www.mypolice.qld.gov.au/farnorth blog
I’m extremely grateful she’s in my team and both Russ and I would literally struggle to keep the office running without her support and expertise.
As with all of our policewomen featured in this series, they have all had quite a bit to say about the uniforms over the years.
From all accounts uniforms have improved with age. Heidi like the other girls is appreciative of the operational trousers. The dress trousers are designed to have a very high waist, and she feels as though she should rename herself ‘Harry high pants’.
It does sound like policing is the perfect fit for Heidi, and that she has skated through her career without so much as a speed bump.
In actual fact, she has narrowly avoided becoming a speed bump on more than one occasion.
In the worst week of her career, Heidi was nearly run over by two people, in two separate incidents, in two days.
Infamously she is now known about the station as ‘Supercop’, and thanks to an article from The Cairns Post, I have proof.
Then Constable Heidi Kroonstuiver was out on patrol as a single officer unit with the Cairns Traffic Branch on April 30, 2006.
She narrowly avoided a collision when a man ran a stop sign in Pyne St Edgehill. The man fled on foot when she attempted to intercept him however he was no match for our nimble footed Heidi.
She was off after him like a startled gazelle, chased him on foot and managed to apprehend him with the help of some very community minded people.
The following day, she was working at a roadside breath testing site, when a motorist drove straight toward Heidi. She needed to jump out of the way and onto the roadway to avoid being hit.
She quickly got into her vehicle and gave chase. She and a fellow colleague located the dumped vehicle nearby but the driver had taken off and was on foot. He was no match for Heidi and her partner, Greg Rose. The pair apprehended the man a short time later.
Heidi is a fitness fanatic and thinks an Ironman triathlon, a hundred ‘burpies’ and the blue arrow walking track are fun, so all this running about is all in a days work for Heidi.
Just a few days after Heidi’s near misses, one of her good mates, a detective at the time, was run down by a car as he attempted to apprehend an offender.
He received serious leg fractures which left him out of action for near on 12 months. He is now well and truly back at work and making a dent on crime in far north.
By the end of that same week a fellow colleague of ours, Constable Sally Urqhart was tragically killed in a plane crash at Lockhart River.
Heidi said, “Whilst I did not question my career choice that week, it certainly took the wind from my sails for a few months. This is one week in my career that I will NEVER EVER forget.”
Heidi has received high praise for her innovative involvement with the Neighbourhood Watch Program throughout the far north district.
In 2012 she was awarded the Far North District NHW Police Liaison Officer of the Year award by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart.
Heidi is married and has two small children under the age of 6 that keep her on her toes.
She said, “I love them dearly and would never change a moment with them however they test my patience more than any criminal ever has.”
I personally think the police service is a good training ground for mums to be. You learn to think on your feet to ensure you have the answer for anything and the skills to negotiate any attack.
Heidi’s husband is a police officer and the pair say managing differing shifts can sometimes be a juggling act to ensure career and parenthood does not suffer.
Heidi said, “I must admit that I lived and breathed policing prior to becoming a Mum.
My priorities have changed significantly as motherhood gave me a very different perspective when it came to dealing with domestic issues in the community as a police officer.
Most definitely, I have no regrets. Policing is a career that I wanted to pursue ever since I was in year 7.
I have loved the career path I have chosen in the Queensland Police Service and I have met and worked with people that I now consider family.”
One last piece of advice Heidi has for everyone, “Life is too short to be unhappy at work.
If there is a particular career that you have always wanted to do, give it a go.
It if does not work out, at least you have had a crack at it.
No regrets I say!”
For more articles from our Far North Policewomen Inspiring Change profile series, go to the below links:
- International Women’s Day, QLD Policewomen Inspiring Change, Sgt Cary Coolican
- First Responder Edmonton Senior Constable Agnieszka Ringer
- Weipa CIB PCSC Jacqui Kissel
- Far North District Domestic & Family Violence Co-ordinator Sgt Larissa Flood
- Tactical Crime Squad Sergeant Michele Rix
- First Responder Cairns Senior Constable Tammy Fysch
- Thursday Island CIB PCSC Karla Place
- Japanese Police Liaison Officer Keiko Berry