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Policewomen inspiring change – Japanese Police Liaison Officer

Keiko in the foreground with senior police when she first started her PLO role in 2007

Keiko in the foreground with senior police when she first started her PLO role in 2007

Japanese Police Liaison Officer (PLO) Keiko Berry was sworn into the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in 2007 and was the first Japanese PLO for the state.

Keiko is proud of this fact and has taken on a number of leadership roles within the community in order to progress her career.

Keiko is respected by her peers, but more importantly, she’s forged strong and lasting relationships with business owners, retailers, locals and visitors alike in the Cairns area.

As Senior Police Liaison officer, PLO Keiko is a regular visitor to our local international language schools where she does safety presentations for the students and co-ordinates some of our Asian speaking Volunteers in Policing (VIP’s), to help out at the language schools. She was formally adopted by the language schools in 2008.

At present she is the acting PLO Co-ordinator for the Far North District in the Cross Cultural Liaison Unit.

I once asked Keiko how old she was. She cheekily replied, “I am lucky and have my Japanese good looks that make me young. You guess.”

I’m not game to ask again so your guess is as good as mine regarding her age. Regardless of age, Keiko has packed a lot into her life.

Hanging out with a 'cassowary' is all in a days work

Hanging out with a ‘cassowary’ is all in a days work

She’s been living in Cairns since 1992 and technically she can be called a local as she’s lived her more than 20 years.

She’s worked in the tourism industry for many years before taking on her role as a Police Liaison Office.

PLO Keiko says, “I love helping everyone, but it’s very rewarding when I can help out members of the Japanese community.

I’ve translated a number of crime prevention awareness fliers into Japanese so that we can get the message out to a wider audience.

English is not the first language for a number of people living or holidaying in Cairns, so every little bit helps.”

Keiko left, working closely with local business people to bring a greater awareness of safety and security responsibilities

Keiko left, working closely with local business people to bring a greater awareness of safety and security responsibilities

Keiko’s been regularly interpreting and translating for not only the QPS.

She’s recently been very active supporting Cairns Business Watch and has been working closely with many of our Asian business people in the Cairns CBD.

She said, “I’m in a good position where I can use my Japanese to help translate.

I’ve even been authorised to help other government agencies such as  the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Customs and Immigration.”

Keiko with her supervising sergeant, Steve Tillett at an official event hosted by the Japan Consulate General

Keiko with her supervising sergeant, Steve Tillett at an official event hosted by the Japan Consulate General

Over the years Keiko has helped to strengthen strong relationships between the Cairns community and the Japan Consulate General.

In 2012, she took the challenge and started at the Townsville Police Academy.

It was tough going juggling academy training and motherhood.

Keiko is married and has two teenage children, a daughter now aged 19 doing her 2nd year at Uni and a 16-year-old son at high school.

“Unfortunately I made the hard decision to suspend my academy training.

English is my second language and even though I can communicate well in both languages, the written reports were difficult.

A hard decision had to be made

A hard decision had to be made

Keiko drew strength from her family and friends and decided a tough decision had to be made.

She references a quote she once read.

‘One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.’

I knew I had to walk away, even though I had always dreamed of becoming a police officer.” Keiko said.

Looking back at the experience, Keiko rates this as one of the many highlights in her career.

She not only gained a lot of knowledge, but she also displayed great strength and resilience for which she is very proud.

Keiko second from left with fellow police officer and police liaison officers

Keiko second from left with fellow police officer and police liaison officers

Regardless of her final decision, Keiko always puts in 100% and was quickly re-employed as a PLO with the Far North Cross Cultural Liaison Office.

Keiko’s daily duties include co-ordinating tasks and organising education and training for the PLO’s.

She regularly works with my office in an effort to promote community safety and she’s even done plenty of media interviews over the years.

Media duties

Media duties

She is constantly working with senior police in charge of sections, as well as those officers out on the road performing first response duties.

Her role doesn’t stop there, she’s operational and is out on patrol assisting and supporting her QPS colleagues as her role is to act as a liaison between differing cultures and to help bridge relations with local police and the community.

Keiko has even mastered the art of staying upright on the segways and is regularly out of the beat with fellow officers.

Keiko the segway queen

Keiko the segway queen

She’s recently been trained as one of our District Police Recruiting Officers and often helps out at career expo’s and information seminars.

Keiko works hard with local police, businesses, international language schools and tourism networks within the community in an effort to promote crime prevention initiatives.

She’s worked closely with my Crime Prevention Team and has helped to translate a number of our crime prevention safety and security fliers into Japanese.

As a Mum, Keiko like many other working mums, finds time management a challenge.

“Trying to run a household, maintaining family relationships and supporting teenagers through their studies and extracurricular activities can be tough going.” she said.

When I asked her if she had words of wisdom, she cheekily responded with, “Yes” and left it at that.

One of Keiko's favourite photos. She found time to pose with  footy legend, Brent Tate at the Cairns FOGs Indigenous Careers Expo

One of Keiko’s favourite photos. She found time to pose with footy legend, Brent Tate at the Cairns FOGs Indigenous Careers Expo

She did follow up by saying, “Even though juggling a career and family is hard, you must remain resilient.

I always manage to find a little time for myself and I find shopping helps me to relax and unwind. All women should do it!”  

That girl can shop!

If shopping was an Olympic sport, she’d have a swag load of gold medals.

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