Bunbury and the SW of Western Australia has lost another giant of the community with the passing of Police Supt John "Watto" Watson.
It's believed John suffered a heart attack and passed away last night.
Watto was the people's copper, he was tough as, and if you were on the wrong side of the law you'd know it.
He famously once said in relation to a group that crossed the line "their arse is grass and I'm the lawnmower."
I've been reminded of several Wattoisms today, "not all drivers are crooks, but all crooks are drivers." In relation to a clamp down on illegal marron catches "they'll be grabbed by the long of the claw" and one of my favourites was when Watto retired, "I'm hanging up my Smith and Wesson and making new friends with Evans and Tate"
That was Watto.
I've spoken to a few copper mates who said of their former boss "his greatest attribute was that he was loyal to his troops and fiercely protective of his community"
Retired Inspector Kim Hutchinson said " John as was one of the very best and will be sadly missed, he cared a lot"
Former OIC of Australind Police Stn Murray Cowper told me that in 9 years of being in charge Watto as Supt visted just 5 times, once to say hello and once to say goodbye, "he just wanted us to do the job"
John Watson was a founding member of the Counter Terrorism Group in WA, the TRG, Potective Service Division and on a more ground roots level was responsible for placing the car in the tree half way between Perth and Bunbury to highlight road safety.
I worked very closely with John, resplendent in his Hawaiian shirt, during the Victoria Street siege and the photo of John in that infamous shirt, and the shirt were sold afterwards for charity.
This story I still can't confirm though, when The Pope visited John was in charge of the protection detail and rumour has it Pope John Paul 11 kissed John Watson's ring!
The visitor could not have been in better hands.
I once asked him if he was afraid of anything. "My wife scares the hell out of me sometimes!"
That, was Watto.
Our thoughts are with his wife Larraine, a magnificent lady, and his family.