Former Warrnambool man Andrew Atkinson almost came to blows with one of Melbourne's most notorious criminals early in his career.
It cost him a second round of beers - a small price to pay when you consider what the standover man later did.
He outlines his dealings with the underworld, time abroad and stints at country police stations in his new book. MONIQUE PATTERSON reports.
You learn pretty quick as a police officer to think on your feet.
And in Andrew Atkinson's case you figure out you can't trust everyone - not even your superior.
The former policeman, who grew up in Warrnambool, has written a book about his 27-year career with Victoria Police.
Copper! A Life in Law Enforcement was recently released.
Mr Atkinson, who has a brain tumour, decided to write the book for his three sons Jack, 21, Harvey, 9, and Jonah, 8.
He said he wanted to share the highs and lows, the encounters with some of Australia's most hardened criminals and the close calls that would have him breaking out in a sweat in bed at night.
When Mr Atkinson was 21, he decided to enter the police force.
After completing his training, he was stationed at the Moonee Ponds Police Station under the supervision of Senior Constable Des Campbell.
He recalled attending a road accident in which three men were killed and he was asked to help out one of the collision investigators.
"He was an older gentleman who has obviously spent the vast majority of his career investigating road fatalities," Mr Atkinson wrote. "I followed him around like a lapdog, watching as he took notes and measurements."
Mr Atkinson said the investigator was carrying a small plastic box as he stepped carefully over the body of one of the deceased men.
"I was fascinated by the small box and waited in anticipation for him to retrieve some kind of special analytical, scientific measuring tool," he wrote.
"Using a tape measure, he took a measurement of the distance of the body in relation to the upturned vehicle and placed a yellow marker on the ground. Then he opened the white plastic box and as he leaned over the body his face only inches away from the dead man, he retrieved a piece of cold pizza from the box and began to eat it."
Under Senior Constable Campbell's watch, Mr Atkinson was given the unenviable moniker of Muppet - an acronym for most useless police person ever trained.
He recalled on one occasion Senior Constable Campbell told him he needed to duck home to pick something up he had forgotten.
"We rolled up to his place a couple of minutes later and he insisted that I come in," Mr Atkinson said.
As the pair approached the front door, Mr Atkinson noticed the front door was open and his superior exclaimed "I've been broken into".
"As he had only been at work for little over half an hour I thought an offender could still be inside so I drew my firearm," Mr Atkinson wrote.
"Des looked at me as if I were crazy, which I thought was odd."
Mr Atkinson was tasked with preparing a burglary report.
"Being naive, I obliged," he said.
Several weeks later he feared this blind trust would cost him his career when he was called into the senior sergeant's office.
"I was told that Des wouldn't be in that day," Mr Atkinson said.
"Internal investigations has executed a search warrant on his house and he had been suspended."
Mr Atkinson was to learn that he had inadvertently been involved in a fraudulent insurance claim made by Campbell.
"Des never returned to work, and I never saw him again. I understand he was never formally charged but resigned in the interim," he wrote.
"To this day, I have never been advised of any formal findings or outcome of the investigation. I can only assume that Des' resignation satisfied those who needed satisfying, and the poor trainee was to be left alone."
Campbell, who had been appointed as Mr Atkinson's mentor, is now behind bars.
"He murdered his wife," Mr Atkinson said.
"He pushed her off a cliff."
Early on in Mr Atkinson's career, he met one of Melbourne's most notorious criminals.
After a busy day at work, Mr Atkinson and a few colleagues decided to head out for a drink.
"We ended up at Benningan's Bar in Chapel Street," Mr Atkinson wrote.
"As I dodged and weaved my way through the crowded bar back to our table carrying drinks, I bumped into a man who was moving slightly backwards as he talked to others in the group."
Mr Atkinson spilt the drinks he was carrying on him and the floor.
"He turned and fired right up, threatening all kinds of violence."
Mr Atkinson stood his ground, trying to explain he wasn't at fault.
The angry man was dragged away by a mate.
"A few minutes later I was seated back at the table with fresh drinks when the man who'd intervened came up to me to make sure I was okay and didn't have an issue," Mr Atkinson wrote.
"He told me Jason had calmed down, and I didn't need to be concerned. I asked him why I should be concerned.
"He said, "You know who that is, don't you?" I shrugged, oblivious. He said, "It's Jason Moran."
"Jason Moran was a criminal who came to prominence a couple of years later during the underworld gangland killings. He was well known in the illicit drug trade around Melbourne and strongly suspected of murder and close links with corrupt police."
Mr Atkinson would go on to have a number of roles that would see him involved with a number of underworld figures.
He was tasked with putting a listening device into Carl Williams' vehicle, a job that proved particularly challenging.
Police got word that Williams would be at a restaurant and Mr Atkinson was given the task of driving his vehicle to another location and getting the job done.
"After completing installation of the necessary surveillance equipment, we got word from the surveillance operatives inside the restaurant that our targets were preparing to leave," Mr Atkinson wrote.
"I jumped into the driver's seat of Carl's car and hit the accelerator.
"Now I heard over the covert communications that Carl was leaving the restaurant and heading back towards his car.
"I was only a couple of hundred metres from the parking spot.
"All I had to do was turn left at the intersection ahead and pull into the disabled park on the left when our car had pulled clear.
"Carl was approaching the intersection on the footpath as I entered the intersection, his view conveniently blocked by a truck that was stationary at the busy intersection. I tooted the horn, so the driver of our car knew to move, allowing me to park. I jumped out of Carl's car and ensured it was secured before jumping into the passenger side of our vehicle. Carl wandered across the road and hopped into his car none the wiser."
In the book, Mr Atkinson also details his time in East Timor and Iraq and his attempts to have CCTV technology installed in Warrnambool during a stint in his home town.
Mr Atkinson said his career had been extremely challenging and rewarding.
He is now in partial remission from cancer and is focusing on spending time with his sons.
You can learn more about Mr Atkinson's career in The Standard's weekly podcast Copper Files. The podcast is available online here.
To purchase a copy of the book visit https://andrewatkinson.australianauthors.store/
Presented by: Monique Patterson
Edited by: Kimberley Price.
Sources: Those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know
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