Policeman, Born 1915, Adelaide SA, Died 2003
Ray Whitrod came to national prominence when he resigned as Queensland's Commissioner of Police as a protest against corruption. It was a very public stand that enhanced his reputation as an officer of unusual integrity, dedicated to improving standards and lifting the level of education within the force. In this interview, Ray looks back over a long and distinguished career, giving a fascinating insight into police culture.
Born in Adelaide in 1915, his memories of childhood are marked by his family's poverty - always leaving the table hungry, embarrassed at school by his castoff clothes. Like many others during the Depression, he took a swag to the country looking for any job he could get - a time he describes as his lowest point.
Things changed when he met Mavis, seven years his senior and a teacher. She gave him a much-needed boost in confidence and her parents encouraged him to apply for the police force, where he was immediately made a detective due to the matriculation level he had attained at high school.
With the advent of World War Two, Ray joined the RAAF as a navigator. He had a hard time readjusting to family life after four intense years of fighting, but by the late 1940s, with the Cold War at its peak, Ray had settled down into a new role, helping to set up the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
Other appointments included head of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, which he helped transform into the Federal Police, and Police Commissioner in New Guinea before he accepted the controversial Queensland posting in 1970. His reform efforts met with strong opposition, both from within the force and the Queensland Government. Finally, in 1976, he quit in outrage after Premier Jo Bjelke-Petersen insisted on promoting officers who were known to be corrupt. The resulting public controversy eventually led to the infamous Fitzgerald Inquiry.
After retirement, Ray Whitrod continued his commitment to serve the Australian public. He lectured in criminology at the Australian National University, worked with cancer patients, visited prisons and, together with his wife Mavis, was the driving force behind the establishment of the South Australian Victims of Crime Service.