Dr Kerrigan enjoys his career and 'has made a
Approaching his retirement, New Territories North Regional Commander Austin Kerrigan reflects on his career with satisfaction. He said of his job: "It has been a challenge, at times frustrating, but always rewarding. The unique nature of police work and policing means everyday is different. There is no such thing as a 'routine day'. Situations you respond to are dynamic which is why exercise of commonsense and discretion is vital. Anyone can follow orders and procedures but a flexible approach and a sense of humour are required in police work."
"My guiding philosophy throughout my career has been rather straightforward. When the public request police assistance, they invariably want a quick response and their problem resolved. This has been the message that I send when I speak with frontline officers who fully agree with my position. It's that simple," Dr Kerrigan added.
Over his 32 years of service, Dr Kerrigan has served in all Regions, including Police Headquarters. He has served as Police Launch Commander, PTU (Platoon Cdr, member of staff and Coy Cdr), KR Squad, Traffic, DOO, PTU COY Cdr, SP LIC, SP CAPO NT, SP EU HKI, DVC, DDC, SSP CM Personnel Wing, Deputy Commandant PTS, DC TWDIST, DRC MAR, ACP SUP and RC NTN.
From dedication to satisfaction
Dr Kerrigan said he enjoyed all the different posts he had held and would like to think that he "made a difference". As OC KR Squad, he remembers executing three to four General Authorisations on a Saturday afternoon and getting lost in the labyrinths of the Kowloon Walled City. Those were exciting days for him, working all day and then going to the local "daai paai dong" with squad members to enjoy a cold beer.
As Deputy Commandant of the former Police Training School, Dr Kerrigan said he set about reviewing both PI and RPC basic training to ensure that the course content was practical and relevant to modern day policing. "My job was simple: to ensure that recruits were sufficiently prepared for the challenges that society presented."
He stated that his extensive background helped. As DC TWDIST, Dr Kerrigan was on the ground in response to the fatal bus crash that happened in Shan Tseng on July 10, 2003, which resulted in 21 deaths and serious injuries to a further 20 persons.
"Police manuals don't teach you how to respond to such incidents and while there are various orders on handling disasters, it is very much a commonsense approach and it is co-operation with emergency response agencies that gets you through. Being a DC was a great experience and I was fortunate in having good people with me. DRC MAR was also a great experience and I was there at exciting times. I helped implement VMPR and, of course, we were very proactive in the area of anti-smuggling."
Rising to challenges
"By far, the most challenging and difficult job I had in my career was that of ACP SUP," Dr Kerrigan continued. "The portfolio is wide and, without doubt, most subjects were controversial. Anything I dealt with impacted on the whole police force and whatever change was introduced had to be right first time. The subject areas I was responsible for included custody management, bail, information security and data protection, race discrimination, equal opportunities, public order, OSH, arrest, traffic management and PPRB."
Dr Kerrigan went on: "The Force had been accused of conducting arbitrary strip searches on persons arrested in connection with public order offences. This basically resulted in a complete revamp to custody management within the Force. Initially, there were many detractors but change was necessary. The resulting revised procedures enabled the Force to fulfil its duties of care to persons detained and protect detainees from unlawful or arbitrary interference. The LegCo Panel on Security also took a great interest in this area, resulting in my attending LegCo on about 16 occasions throughout my tenure. Appearing before the Security Panel was like preparing for a promotion board. You must know your subject and your first response must be correct. On reflection, I think I did a good job in defending the Force's position."
One of Dr Kerrigan's more enjoyable posts has been that of RC NTN. Not without its challenges, it has been a great experience enriched by the people with whom he has worked.
In respect of personal development, Dr Kerrigan has always been committed to lifelong learning, believing that such experience can be used in policing. Joining the Force with a BA (Hons) in Business Organisation from the Heriot-Watt University, he obtained a M.Soc.Sc. in Criminology from the Hong Kong University in 1992 and his doctorate in 2001 from the University of Wales.
Has made a difference
In conclusion, Dr Kerrigan said: "I retire on September 24, 2011 and, on reflection, can honestly say I have enjoyed my career and I do believe, in all sincerity, I have made a difference. I would like to wish all members of the Force, including our Auxiliary colleagues and civilians and their families, all the best in the future."
Dr Kerrigan always sets an example for officers to adopt a healthy lifestyle
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