Memories of Tasmania Police Academy First Intake: Class of ’76

Cadets at the Police Academy were required to achieve 35 words per minute in their typing classes.
Cadets at the Police Academy were required to achieve 35 words per minute in their typing classes.
“It was the newest academy in Australia and it was sparkling because they had us cleaning it up for the first six weeks before they opened it.” – one of the first cadets remembers scrubbing floors, picking up rocks and serving drinks.

That was the experience of two North-West 17-year-olds who were a part of the first cadet year to graduate from the newly opened Tasmania Police Academy in 1976.

Having completed one year under the old system of training, Steve Bonde, a farm boy of North Motton and his mate David Plumpton, of Ulverstone, moved into the brand new “sparkling” academy at Rokeby in Hobart.

“Compared to where we had been before it was palatial,” Mr Plumpton said.

Mr Bonde, who later became the Western District Commander said that the “forced labour” the new cadets endured included picking up rocks from the grounds and a crash course in drinks waiting for dignitaries.

“It was a shocking waste of what we thought was talent,” he said.

Mr Plumpton said that there was a certain amount of pride in the establishment.

“We were proud to be there because it was a new place.

“We did exchange with South Australia and we would compare ours to theirs and ours was miles ahead,” he said.

The new facility included a gym and a dojo that could be utilised by the cadets.

Judo practice: Steve Bonde is second from right.
Judo practice: Steve Bonde is second from right.

A big part of life at the academy was the intense rivalries between football club supporters, adults and teenagers and Boags (north) and Cascade (south).

Mr Plumpton began his policing career in traffic at Hobart, and spent most of his career as a detective throughout the North-West, retiring in 2015.

Mr Bonde’s first years were spent in Hobart and included an undercover operation in pursuit of a serial arsonist, after which he moved on to small town policing in Latrobe, Queenstown and Stanley.

Mr Bonde retired in March 2013, having been Western District Commander since 2006.

Read more in The Advocate.

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