TOP COP: Senior Constable Matt Steinhardt won this year’s Adopt-a-Cop award for his outstanding work at Kalkie State School.
TOP COP: Senior Constable Matt Steinhardt won this year’s Adopt-a-Cop award for his outstanding work at Kalkie State School. Max Fleet

Making a difference in kids’ lives

WHEN Matt Steinhardt joined the Queensland Police Service 15 years ago he was determined to make a difference.

Now the Bundaberg Police Detective senior constable has been recognised for his sterling effort and awarded the Adopt-a-Cop of the Year for the North Coast Region for his work with Kalkie State School.

"The relationship between the police and school community is especially important in the case of my line of work," he said.

"I take an active role in fostering these close relationships with schools, kids and their parents."

Before joining the police, Det Snr Const Steinhardt was forging a career in carpentry but decided the physical toll on his body was not worth it.

Following in his elder brother's footsteps, the now 38-year-old chose to join the police in 1998.

"I think the main reason I joined was I wanted to make a difference and help people," he said.

"I ended up working in Toowoomba, Atherton, Bulliwallah and Eidsvold.

"Then in late 2006 I moved to Bundaberg with the family."

Unlike his TV counterparts - who solve cases in the space of an episode - Det Snr Const Steinhardt said his line of work in the child protection unit meant his days were spent painstakingly investigating some of society's more unspeakable crimes.

"The reality for me now is I do a lot of investigation so that involves a lot more paper work," he said.

"In our job it takes a couple of years before we may charge a person or even before it gets to court.

"That is one of the biggest misconceptions because it is definitely a long process."

Det Snr Const Steinhardt said given the nature of his investigations, it was sometimes difficult to separate work from his private life, as he was forced to come face to face with the worst humankind had to offer.

"It is not easy sometimes and can be hard not to get emotional when dealing with the more serious investigations," he said.

"But years of working in that field you learn to separate your work life and private life.

"I exercise and generally walk a lot to clear my mind."

Having been an adopt-a-cop for Kalkie State School since April 2007, Det Snr Const Steinhardt said he was proud to play a supportive role for students as they embark on their journey to adulthood.

"I do a lot of talks on cyber bullying and lately I've been talking to kids and preparing them for high school," he said.

"Bullying manifests itself in different ways and while there is still physical bullying that takes place, it seems to have turned more towards cyberspace."

Kalkie State School principal Maureen Colman said Det Snr Const Steinhardt continued to provide a friendly and reliable presence to all the students and hoped that special relationship would continue for years to come.

"Having him around makes it very worthwhile," she said.