Police officers Brittany Poulton, Catherine Nielsen, Scott Hill and Stephen Barlow accept their Bravery Awards at Government House.
Police officers Brittany Poulton, Catherine Nielsen, Scott Hill and Stephen Barlow accept their Bravery Awards at Government House. Peter Wallis

Brett Forte's colleagues awarded for bravery

"WE'LL always think of our mate Brett on days like this."

The shootout that killed Brett Forte will stay forever with police officers Scott Hill, Stephen Barlow, Catherine Nielsen and Brittany Poulton.

But with each other, their families, friends and the police service, they have escaped the "dark place" they found themselves in after the shooting.

On Tuesday, Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey presented the four officers with Bravery Awards for their actions.

On May 29, 2017, the officers were pursuing known criminal Rick Maddison on a dirt track at Ringwood in the Lockyer Valley.

Maddison stopped his car and opened fire on the police vehicles using a fully automatic gun. Senior Constable Forte, who was driving with Senior Constable Nielsen, was shot and injured.

Constable Nielsen returned fire, called for backup and stayed with Constable Forte. Senior Constables Hill and Barlow and Constable Poulton proceeded on foot to join their colleagues.

Despite constant gunfire, Constable Poulton provided covering fire and Constable Barlow began first aid. Constable Barlow then fetched another vehicle which Constable Forte was moved into and Constable Poulton reversed to a safe area.

Constables Hill, Nielsen and Barlow remained at the shootout until they knew the others were safe.

Constable Forte died from the gunshot wounds.

Maddison was killed during the ensuing standoff with police.

"Days like this we think about our mate Brett," Constable Hill said.

"On the day we just knew that Fortey needed help. Cath needed help. Our mates needed help.

"It's been hard to deal with. We still talk about it all the time."

Constable Nielsen said the time since the shooting had been hard, but all of them had made progress.

"We could be back in that dark place still. I'm proud of how we've worked on ourselves," she said.

The four remain close with Mr Forte's family who have supported them throughout the last year.

Mr de Jersey said many acts of bravery sadly came in terrible circumstances.

"We can't even begin to imagine, those of us who weren't there, the circumstances in which you instinctively knew that the moment for action had come - that the life of another was certainly as important, if not more important, than your own," he said.

"I acknowledge that many of the incidents for which you are honoured today had a sad ending, and understand the deep emotional stress and the physical pain and injury that is often etched into the lives of the rescuer, the rescued, and their respective families." -NewsRegional



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