FAIR COP - Christine Nixon & Jo Chandler

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Even taking into account the idea that a biography, particularly biography from someone with a very recent high public profile, will have a certain "take" on events, FAIR COP is an extremely worthwhile read.  Adore or abhor Christine Nixon she is a woman who achieved astounding heights, and therefore had a long way to fall (be it that she jumped, was pushed, or deserved to trip).  

FAIR COP takes the reader back to Nixon's childhood and then through family life with her policeman father, and very forthright mother, to joining the NSW police force.  It tracks her career, her education and her achievements up to the point at which she retired as Commissioner of the Victorian Police force and ultimately headed the Bushfire Reconstruction Authority formed by the state government following the 2009 bushfires.  

The book constructs, chapter by chapter, Nixon's life and advancements in her career, as well as the factors that formed her policing philosophies.  There's even some glimpses into her personal life - her choices regarding family, her marriage and her home life, as well as what it is like for her husband to be married to such a high profile wife in a world which still seems to have a percentage of ... well idiots ... who behave like the fools that they are at the very thought (yes - this reader is biased) of an individual woman, making choices, setting an agenda, believing in change.  It answers some of the stupid and mindless commentary during her tenure as Police Commissioner (some of us could care less what her weight is like / how tall (or not she is) and all the other mindless crud that leaks from the dark recesses of these idiot's caves).  More importantly, it discusses her philosophy, how she formed her attitude to community policing, and what happens when you attempt to affect change - not just in her case, but earlier in the NSW force as well.  It covers her relationship with Police Member Associates (NSW and Victoria), it talks about the scandals around her media advisor and certain high profile police members, as well as the fight to limit corruption and the Victorian Underworld murders.

And of course it touches on the Bushfire Royal Commission and the revelation that she was both at the hairdressers early in the morning, and ate dinner in the evening.  It also looks at the management structure she'd carefully constructed, it looked at her analysis of what she did / didn't do wrong, and it discusses what she would change.  (For what it's worth, and living in a rural area of Victoria, the Royal Commission seemed to be a lot less about discovering what could be done better and more about looking for blame, all of which resulted in a series of recommendations that, frankly, are underwhelming.  Interestingly the management structure that Nixon had implemented being compatible with those recommended by external experts).

Whilst allowing for the fact that the book is written with Christine Nixon, by journalist Jo Chandler (and interestingly started way before the end of her tenure as Police Commissioner), there's an honesty about the book which is fits with Nixon's persona.  If nothing else FAIR COP seemed like a fair chance for Christine Nixon to finally put her side of the story. 

Year of Publication

Christine Nixon became the first female Chief Commissioner of Police in Australia, appointed to head Victoria Police at a most crucial time - the underworld was in the midst of a bloody war, the spectre of terrorism was emerging as a powerful new threat, and there was a stench of internal corruption.

Review FAIR COP - Christine Nixon & Jo Chandler
Karen Chisholm
Monday, September 5, 2011
Blog Currently Reading - Fair Cop, Christine Nixon & Jo Chandler
Karen Chisholm
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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