FROM the VAULT – CoP Norwin William Bauer

A man ahead of his time in 1969, newly appointed Police Commissioner Norwin W. Bauer considered traffic crashes, increasing crime and drug use as the main problems facing police.

Norwin Bauer joined the Queensland Police Force 40 years prior, at the age of 24.  With a family background in farming and a love of horses, Constable Bauer initially worked the Police Depot Stables then completed a country stint at St George, before returning to Brisbane’s Roma Street Station, Bulimba and Southport.  In 1936 Plain Clothes Constable Bauer was appointed to the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) marking the start of a successful investigative career.

Queensland Police Commissioner N.W.Bauer. Image PM2303 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

Promoted to Detective Constable in 1939, Bauer was detailed to perform interchange duty in New South Wales and Victoria and this training set the scene for further travel much later in his career, including to study police training methods in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and many European countries.  This research resulted in recommendations to improve the training methods of Queensland’s Police Force.

Further promotions, to D/Sergeant in 1943 and D/Senior Sergeant in 1950, then to the rank of Inspector in 1957 entitled Norwin to the position of Officer in Charge (OIC) of Cloncurry District and he was soon tasked to the nationwide manhunt for a suspect in a triple homicide on Sundown Station, northern South Australia.  Questioning techniques employed by the Inspector with Raymond J. Bailey, a carpenter from Dubbo found working in Queensland’s Mount Isa, elicited valuable evidence and Bailey was eventually convicted of the three murders.  Many criminals floundered in the face of this analytical thinker, and credited with a string of successfully solved crimes Mr Bauer was recognised for receipt of a Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 1966.

Commissioner Bauer addressing guests and students at the official opening of the Queensland Police College, Chelmer in 1970.

In 1982 and well into his retirement, Mr Norwin Bauer was still active in police circles and scheduled to speak at September’s induction lunch.    Ever prepared Mr Bauer’s speech had been written when his unexpected death shocked all those around him; he had appeared in very good shape for his age.  The speech was reproduced in the October edition of the Police Vedette, 1982, and is partially provided here;

One of the most important requirements in a police officer is to attain and retain a high standard of responsibility and reliability both to the Department which employs you and to the public whom you serve.  By your attitudes and actions, let it be known to your superior officers and to the members of the public with whom you have to deal and over whom you exercise a watching guardianship that they can repose an implicit trust in you at all times.

Police work is not just another job.  It is a very specialised job and very demanding of your time, thought and effort – on in which you must ever be alert, observant and active.  Take the opportunity of getting to know your State.  My advice to you, especially when you are single and without family ties, is to seek to serve in some of the outlying parts of the State, and thus widen your experience and knowledge not only of its geography but also of its citizens.

Reputable members of the society will certainly assist you with knowledge if they have it and if you command their confidence and respect.  But knowledge of the not so reputable members of society is seldom held by the reputable members.  The old adage that ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ is certainly true, and often it will be in the more shady side that you will have to seek information.

I wish you every success in the interesting and challenging times that lie ahead in your chosen career. 

Débutantes and flower girls surround from left to right, then Police Commissioner Francis Bischof, Minister for Education Jack Pizzey and Chief Inspector Norwin Bauer at the Qld Police Centenary Ball held at Cloudland, April 15th, 1964.


This article was written by Museum Assistant Georgia Grier utilising information contained within the best resources held by the Queensland Police Museum.  The museum is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb – Nov) and is located on the Ground Floor of Police Headquarters at 200 Roma Street, Brisbane. Contact: E: [email protected]

“FROM the VAULT- CoP Norwin William Bauer” by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) 2.5 Australia Licence. Permissions may be available beyond the scope of this licence.

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