Tasmania Police's Ruth Orr becomes second female inspector in Northern District

During her teenage years Ruth Orr was tossing up between becoming a police officer and a chef.

Fast forward to now and she has just become the second female Tasmania Police inspector in the Northern District.

While the idea of working in a kitchen was always in the back of her mind growing up, policing was at the forefront.

Since graduating in 1996 she has worked in the North, North-West and the South. 

From uniform duties to drug squad, her more than 22-year career has seen her receive a National Police Service Medal, National Service Medal, Tasmania Police Service Medal and 20-year clasp.

Recognition is not why she got into policing though.

For Inspector Orr, it was about being part of the community.

“My parents, particularly my mum, were involved in a lot of community service and volunteer work so I always had an interest in looking after the community and contributing,” she said.

Inspector Orr was one of seven women in her course at the police academy, out of 20 recruits. 

“That was actually quite a high number back then,” she said.

“All of the women in my recruit course are still in the job with the exception of one.”

After graduating she was stationed in Launceston where she worked in the uniform division for four years.

A four-year stint in the drug squad followed before she was promoted to Burnie Criminal Investigation Branch and then back to Launceston to continue CIB work. 

Inspector Orr also spent some time in the South, stationed at the Police Academy working in professional development.

Having spent much of her career working in the area of drug and criminal investigation, she witnessed a shift in the types of drugs being used in Tasmania and the challenges faced by police trying to tackle the problem. 

 “When I started in drug squad in 2001 you really didn't see a lot of the pills and powders it was predominately cannabis,” she said.

“Now it is concerning how much illicit drugs are coming in by the ferry or mail. There is always going to be a market for it and people will take opportunities.

“It’s a matter of police being able to keep up with different ways of policing and different ways of detecting, so that’s always a challenge.”

Taking on her latest role of inspector also meant becoming the officer in charge of Northern District Support Services.

Inspector Orr’s new responsibilities include road and public order policing, northern prosecutions, the northern coroner’s office, the Early Intervention Youth Justice Unit and Launceston’s PCYC.

“It is a variety of areas that all play a part in looking after the community so I am really looking forward to getting my head around how each of those work and coming to work every day and learning something new,” she said.

“It’s about managing people, but it’s also about leadership so I am really looking forward to taking on that role as well.” 

The news of Inspector Orr’s promotion comes less than two years after the North welcomed its first ever female inspector – Philippa Burk.

Inspector Orr and Inspector Burk are two of six inspectors in the district. 

“I think it’s definitely an achievement,” Inspector Orr said. 

“I look at it as a personal achievement, I’ve worked hard and a lot has gone into it so I feel really proud of myself, but I am also proud to be female and to be in the Northern District with another female inspector.

“It’s also an achievement for Tasmania Police.”

Throughout her career, Inspector Orr has already been involved in mentoring other members of Tasmania Police, which was something she hoped to continue through her new position.

“I have had mentors and role models along the way, male and female, and it is really important to have that support,” she said.

“There’s an opportunity here to encourage and support other women to not only join up, but also seek promotion.

“It really is a great career.”

An inspector is a commissioned officer and falls below Commander in the ranks.