When former Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard first put in his application to Tasmania Police as an 18-year-old it was scarcely more than a backup plan if his dreams of an artistic career fell through.
A little more than 40 years later, the one-time graphic design aspirant had retired after devoting himself to policing and most recently helping steer the state through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Tilyard, now 58, had his last day in the blue on Thursday, and while he may have lost his deputy commissioner title, he leaves behind a legacy of committed police work for those following in his footsteps.
Reflecting on his career Mr Tilyard said despite having worked through some of the most significant moments in Tasmanian history, including the Port Arthur tragedy, the Franklin Dam controversy and the Dunalley bushfires, the past 18 months spent as the state's Deputy State Controller were his most challenging.
It's been the most intense period of my entire policing career.Scott Tilyard on the COVID-19 response
"I think a lot of people across government and across the community would agree it's been the most difficult time. None of us envisaged that we'd be having to live through a global pandemic.
"We've planned for and been through bad flu seasons before, but this goes well beyond that. We've had to by necessity do things that we never envisaged - the thought of using hotels for quarantine or having to quarantine at home with police, emergency services and the defence force going around and checking on people at their homes that was never envisaged."
While challenging, Mr Tilyard said being able to help the state be adaptive to considerations that had only ever before been seen in Hollywood movies was one of his proudest achievements.
Mr Tilyard joined the police force in 1981 after having grown up across Tasmania in Evandale, East Devonport and Hobart.
He said despite policing being a fall-back option as a teenager, in hindsight his path was laid before him from an early age.
I've always had a strong sense of justice. I didn't like bullies at school and was wanting to help out people that were being bullied by others.Scott Tilyard
"Reflecting on it, I think that might have been something that drew me to policing."
The greater good remained on Mr Tilyard's mind throughout his policing career and he said it was this element that he believed was one of the force's greatest strengths.
While discussion has raged recently about the most ideal use of police resources, Mr Tilyard believed there was always a place for police carrying a greater load.
"Police have core responsibilities, but I've always been a great believer that the police are there not only to discharge core responsibilities, but also to help the public when they need it," he said.
"Sometimes, particularly after hours or of a weekend when some of the other support services aren't as readily available, police need to step in because somebody has to help. There's always going to be need for police to step in sometimes to help out people when they need it. That's just part of the police role as far as I'm concerned."
While he had stepped down from Tasmania Police, Mr Tilyard will step into a role as the Tasmanian Road Safety Advisory Council chairman.
He said he hoped the wealth of knowledge he gained in roles with police would be beneficial as RSAC chairman.
Those roles ranged from general duties, major crimes, as a Hobart CIB detective inspector, the Northern District commander and his more recent policing roles
"My knowledge and understanding of road safety issues, I'm hoping, will be of benefit to the work of the council," he said.
"Driving is the riskiest thing most people do on a daily basis, but people don't really appreciate that ... Everyone can have a lapse of concentration, but a split-second lapse can have fatal consequences."
Mr Tilyard received a number of accolades in his policing career including being bestowed the Australian Police Medal in 2004 and the National Medal and Commissioner's Commendation in 1996.
He said walking away from the police force was a difficult decision when he felt like he still had something left to give but was looking forward to spending time with his wife and young family.
I think it's a good juncture for me to leave ... but it allows me to spend more time with my family, which is the thing I'm most looking forward to in retirement.Scott Tilyard
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