Services across the country for National Police Remembrance Day on Friday will honour police force members who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty, including the two young officers killed at the fatal Wieambilla shooting in December.
At the 2023 commemoration, constables Rachel McCrow, Matthew Arnold and Anthony Woods will be remembered with touchstones added to the National Police Memorial Wall.
Queensland Police Service constables McCrow and Arnold were killed in the horrific Wieambilla shooting in December 2022 when responding to a missing persons inquiry.
The pair were caught in a deadly ambush when conspiracy theorists Gareth, Stacey and Nathaniel Train opened fire on the officers at a property in the Darling Downs, 300km west of Brisbane.
In a joint statement from the McCrow and Arnold families, the pair were remembered as “bright, brave, thoughtful and kind”.
“Outside of work, they were loyal friends, full of laughter, a devoted daughter and dedicated son – they impacted the lives of everyone around them,” the statement read.
“Every day, our families deeply miss their presence, and our love and pride in both Matthew and Rachel will never waver.
“This National Police Remembrance Day, our families would like to extend our profound gratitude to every person who has shown kindness since December 12, 2022, the evil day our worlds shattered, and lives changed forever.”
Separately, the life of Western Australia Police Force Constable Anthony Woods, who was killed in June this year as a result of injuries he sustained during an arrest, will also be commemorated.
Constable Woods sustained critical injuries when he was allegedly struck by a stolen car in Ascot, Perth.
AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw said National Police Remembrance Day served as an important opportunity for serving members of police forces, and the community at large, to honour those that have lost their lives.
“We always pray for the National Police Memorial Wall to stay untouched – for it to remain a monument of the past so our grief can be contained,” Commissioner Kershaw said.
“We dread having one more name etched into the Wall because one more name is one too many.
“To add three names today – Matthew Arnold, Rachel McCrow and Anthony Woods – is harrowing.”
In the days leading up to this year’s day of remembrance, images of the three offices were projected onto Canberra’s National Carillon monument to commemorate their sacrifice.
Later on Friday afternoon, personnel from all Australian policing jurisdictions will march in Canberra from the AFP headquarters in Barton to attend a service at the National Police Memorial in Kings Park near Russell.
The memorial pays tribute to Australian police officers who have been killed on duty or have died as a result of their duties since the advent of policing in Australia.
At the conclusion of the event, 826 names will have been inscribed in the memorial wall in total, including Friday’s three additions.
Australia’s political leaders have also paid respect to the police community with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and opposition leader Peter Dutton both offering tributes.
“I pay tribute to each and every police officer who serves their community and our nation, and offer the heartfelt sympathies of the Australian people to all those who have lost colleagues, friends and loved ones,” Mr Albanese said in a statement.
“Every day, our men and women in blue willingly place themselves in danger to contain and quash that danger for the rest of us. They are motivated by a profound commitment to law and order and by the deepest compassion for the communities they serve,” Mr Dutton said.