WA Police Excellence Award winner says police determined to improve search capabilities in wake of Ian Collett operation

Senior Sergeant Darryl Brandis.
Senior Sergeant Darryl Brandis.

WA Police Excellence Award recipient Senior Sergeant Darryl Brandis says police are determined to improve their search capabilities in the wake of the Ian Collett operation.

Sgt Brandis won the individual category at the awards last week, thanks in part to his role in the search for the Canning Vale grandfather, who lived with dementia and disappeared in May.

The Mundijong Police officer-in-charge said police wanted to develop new strategies to aid future large-scale efforts to locate missing people.“One of the officers who was a family liaison officer for the Colletts has been quite inspired by this search and another search I did and he’s doing a presentation to the police commissioner on new ways of locating people that have got a cognitive impairment,” he said.

“He went over to America, saw how they search for people there and he’s come back with a couple of ideas.

“One of the senior sergeants who was in the emergency management unit is putting forward another thing to the commissioner, it’s a bracelet people can wear.”

Sgt Brandis said the search for Mr Collett, whose body was found in bushland in June, was one of the largest operations he had been involved in during his 20-year career and the police had taken away some important lessons.

“There’s really quite a positive outlook now, to see if we can stop someone else from being the next Ian Collett,” he said.

“Because it was so complex with the number of sites we went to and we were at one stage running two command centres at the same time, that set a new benchmark.

“Now they can look at that at emergency management and hopefully it helps people in the future.”

Sgt Brandis, who admitted he was humbled to win his police excellence award, was reunited with Ian Collett’s wife Deborah at the ceremony and commended her on her strength during and after the search.

“This month would have been Ian’s birthday, it would’ve been their anniversary this month and also Christmas,” he said.

“It was an interesting time to catch up with Deborah, we both just reflected on the whole thing and how it panned out.

“She’s doing really well, she’s such a brave lady to have been there and relive all of that over again, I don’t know if I would’ve done that.”