Meet Sergeant Cheryl Bell. She commenced her career in Darwin with the Northern Territory Police in 1988.
"I started out on the front line, learning to be the best police officer I could be before transferring to Alice Springs Police Station in 1992. Most of my time in Alice was spent working as a detective until I decided I wanted to expand my experience and work in a remote location of the Northern Territory (NT).
In Alice Springs I faced my toughest policing career both physically and mentally, involving the different landscapes of the area and policing of Aboriginal Settlements.
Despite this experience, I faced challenges trying to gain a remote location position in the NT. Back in 1994 there were no female serving members posted to the outback of the NT.
I continued to apply and roughly a year in the making my District Superintendent approached me and offered me a remote location at Yuendumu Police Station. Yuendumu lies 293 km northwest of Alice Springs on the Tanami Road, and is a community largely made up of the Warlpiri and Anmatyerr Aboriginal people. I had no idea what to expect or even if I would be respected by the elders of the community.
In June 1994 I started at Yuendumu. I drove through the entrance and couldn’t believe that I was actually here and about to be introduced to the most extremely remote, most volatile and rewarding experiences of my police career. While it was extremely difficult to gain respect from my peers and the community in the early stages of my position, I eventually earned that respect and became part of the Aboriginal community through hard work and my determination to succeed.
I provided the much needed female presence in the community and helped form the women’s night patrol to provide assistance in keeping alcohol out the community in a designated dry area.
During my time there I also opened the flood gates for females in the NT to apply for remote locations. What was once an impossibility is now a reality for many female officers.
No doubt my policing experience in the NT has benefited my service with the WA Police Force. I am extremely grateful to work for this agency and am determined to continue to make a difference in my current role as Sergeant.”
Sergeant Cheryl Bell is currently the Events Coordinator for the South Metropolitan District.