Brett Forte: Family's brave tribute to police hero
AN OLD police hat will be placed in Senior Constable Brett Forte's hands when he is laid to rest in the coming days.
It was the hat his father Stuart wore during his more than 42 years with Queensland Police.
More than a decade ago - soon after Brett had married the love of his life and fellow officer Susan - the respected Toowoomba officer had found the hat sitting in the laundry of his father's home.
He claimed it and wore it as his own until his final day on Monday when he was shot and killed by a cop-fearing gunman.
The hat is a symbol of the Forte family's affinity for policing, Stuart told The Courier-Mail yesterday.
A treasured possession that will forever remind him of the boy who would sneak out of home to turn on his old man's police radio.
The boy who would grow up to passionately follow in his father's policing footsteps - like Stuart had done himself years earlier.
"He's just a hero," Stuart said. "He was a great bloke and he needs to be remembered," he said.
Brett - known for his humour at home and at work - wasn't afraid to do the hard yards and he rose through the ranks by doing his time in the regions around Brisbane.
Brett leaves behind two sons, Brodie, 9, and Samuel, 3, and stepdaughter Emma, 16.
Similarly, Brett grew up in a family of three, but it wasn't until early adulthood that he informed his father of his desire to join the force.
While Stuart's father had some reservations about his own son joining the force around 1970, Stuart himself was never reluctant to see his son sign up.
"(Brett) was always that way (passionate about policing)," he said.
"I wouldn't say he was gungho, but he wanted to get in there and do the job and do the job right.
"I've been told that he was the guy who had the knowledge of the guidelines and how you're supposed to do things.
"If anyone wanted any advice, he'd tell them that you do it this way.
"He knew what he was doing and he was very smart in that area."
Brett's heartbroken stepdaughter Emma Morris yesterday laid flowers outside Toowoomba Police Station in memory of her father figure.
She echoed her grandfather's sentiments, calling Brett a hero.
But Emma wept at the thought of her brothers growing up without the guidance she had received from him.
"Brett was just a true hero to everybody he knew ... a true family man that would put his life on the line for anybody," she said.
"Especially because I have younger siblings and they're never going to remember him."
But Stuart expects his son's legacy to live forever within Queensland police ranks.
It remains to be seen whether Brodie and Samuel will follow in their father's footsteps and continue the family tradition.
One thing Stuart will ensure is that they will grow up knowing their dad was a hero.
Arrangements for Brett's funeral are still being discussed by his family, who gathered at the home he and Susan shared at Highlands, a suburb of Toowoomba, yesterday.
While some in the Forte family have expressed anger towards the slain officer's killer, Stuart says he has no ill will.
"I don't hate anybody," he said. "Funnily enough I thought I would, but there's no hatred there."