FROM the VAULT – Terence Murray Lewis

Our FROM the VAULT series on Queensland Police Commissioners cannot exclude Terence Murray Lewis, stood down in September 1987 after 38 years as a police officer.  Mr Lewis commenced his career at Brisbane’s Roma Street Police Station in January 1949 after completing mandatory cadet training at the Petrie Terrace Police Depot.  Promotions came in quick succession for the clever Constable, to Plain Clothes Constable in 1950, Detective Constable in 1954, D/Senior Constable in 1959, D/Sergeant in 1964, D/Senior Sergeant in 1968, Inspector in 1973, and the youngest Police Commissioner Queensland had seen in 1976, at the age of 48.

Many good police services were performed by Mr Lewis prior to findings by the Fitzgerald Inquiry of his direct involvement in corruption.  In 1960 Detective Senior Constable Lewis, with Constable 1/c Glen Patrick Hallahan, Constables Kevin John Morris and James Kevin Shearer, overpowered a man wielding a loaded .303 rifle.  The former officer of the Afrika Korps was brandishing the weapon whilst threatening to shoot his wife and then himself.  During efforts to relieve the man of the rifle a shot was fired missing the target, Constable 1/c Hallahan, after which all officers pounced to successfully disarm the man at his Lota home.  Lewis and Hallahan received the George Medal for their gallantry, and Morris and Shearer the British Empire Medal.

Queensland Police Force officers and their partners, including Inspector Terence Lewis standing at left, enjoy dinner at the National Hotel, Brisbane in February 1975.
The police troop had recently returned from Darwin where they assisted the Northern Territory Police after Cyclone Tracy devastated the town.
Image No. PM2033 donated by Tony Sheil (seated nearest Terry Lewis).

In 1974 Inspector Lewis was sent to Darwin to lead a Queensland contingent of police to assist Northern Territory in connection with devastation caused by Cyclone Tracy.  Fresh from N.T. detail and now located in the Charleville District as Officer in Charge, Inspector Lewis coordinated the local flood relief in 1976 when torrential rain submerged the wide country streets turning usually dry dusty land into a mud bowl.  He was well respected for his efforts in policing during the clean-up after both devastating weather events.

By the end of the year Mr Lewis had become Queensland’s Police Commissioner.  Many new policies were introduced to improve employment conditions; simplifying short-term leave applications, major improvements to state-wide building infrastructure, better recruit training regimes, family friendly training schedules for all police, the abolition of forced transfer, optional wearing of slacks for policewomen, and an increase to the bush patrol allowance.  Of particular note; initiating the opening of the Queensland Police Museum to the public.

With the number of young offenders rising, Lewis formed the Juvenile Aid Bureau in 1963. The service branched out from Brisbane’s CBD and Commissioner Lewis is pictured here as the first ‘customer’ of the new Chermside JAB counter after its official opening in 1982, receiving advice from Detective Sergeant 1/C Dugald William MacMillan.
Image No. PM1107 courtesy of QPS Photographics.

In 1980 the great honour of ‘Father of the Year’ was bestowed upon Mr Lewis, and in 1986 he was honoured with a Knight Batchelor by the Queen for police service.  It was 1987 when Sir Terence Lewis’ luck changed and the Fitzgerald Inquiry, ordered by the State Government to investigate allegations of police crime and corruption, uncovered a shameful quantity of evidence to confirm this, including 15 counts of corruption by Lewis.  He was immediately stood aside, eventually imprisoned and relieved of his Knighthood.  Lewis, whilst Commissioner, had once wished he was back in Charleville – said he had fewer problems there.


This article was written by Museum Assistant Georgia Grier from the best resources available within the Queensland Police Museum.  The Police 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- Terence Murray Lewis” 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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