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Police Star shines on Pilbara officer’s actions

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Pilbara District Office Senior Sergeant Mark Barratt with his WA Police Star medal, at the police station memorial to fallen officers.
Camera IconPilbara District Office Senior Sergeant Mark Barratt with his WA Police Star medal, at the police station memorial to fallen officers. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

In the 12 years since a violent incident in Tom Price left Pilbara District Police officer Mark Barratt seriously injured, he has had to undergo more than a dozen operations and hundreds of hours of rehabilitation.

But he nevertheless counts himself lucky that, unlike many others, he was ever able to return home.

Attending a call-out to a domestic violence situation in Tom Price in 2006, the then-station officer-in-charge and a partner had to dodge projectiles and climb a shed to rescue a baby held hostage on top of the unstable building by his father, who was threatening to kill the child to get back at his estranged partner.

When the officers rescued the baby, the enraged man lunged at Senior Sergeant Barratt, knocking him off the shed and onto the ground.

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In the fall, his knee was snapped, a vertebrate in his lower back compressed and the bones of one hand were shattered, putting him in hospital for five weeks.

Twelve years later, his rehabilitation continues.

“It’s had a profound impact,” he said of those injuries.

“It doesn’t only affect your work but it affects your family, your personal life and then there’s all the mental anguish that goes with it.”

Last month, the senior officer, who has spent 15 years of his career in the Pilbara and now works in engagement and support in Karratha, received a WA Police Star medal for his actions.

The award was introduced by WA Police last year to acknowledge the sacrifices officers make in serving the community, and Sen. Sgt Barratt was the only currently serving Pilbara officer to receive one this year at a ceremony in Perth.

He said it was important the particular risks of police work and long-term impact of injuries were more publicly recognised.

“The (Police Star medals) are long overdue,” he said.

“Up until now there was nothing that actually recognised police officers and the harm which they suffered, the long-term effects, and I think that is the most important thing about these medals.”

Sen. Sgt Barratt is also gearing up to take on the upcoming 840km WA Police Legacy Karratha to Broome bike ride, on August 15-19, to fundraise for the charity which supports families of police officers killed in the line of duty.

He said after the years of rehabilitation work and operations which put metal bolts and plates into his body, he was looking forward to once again being part of the charity’s premier event.

Asked if back in Tom Price he would have done the same thing if he had known the consequences, Sen. Sgt Barratt said it was “more than likely” that he would have.

“It’s fair to say that every police officer I know would do exactly the same thing and wouldn’t think twice about it,” he said.

“That’s why we do what we do, because we love to help the community.”

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