Police honoured for facing down gunman
The smell of gunpowder and surge of adrenaline remain clear in the mind of first responder Kristie Emma Bell when she recalls the most terrifying experience of her NSW Police career.
Ms Bell is one of seven NSW Police officers and three Queensland Police officers who were involved in a dangerous pursuit in 2015 and their efforts have been acknowledged with a Group Bravery Citation in the 2020 Australian Bravery Awards.
In February 2015, Ms Bell was a senior constable at Tweed Heads police station when authorities received word of a dangerous police pursuit heading across the Queensland border.
Ms Bell vividly remembers NSW officers stopping the two offenders in their stolen car with road spikes on the Pacific Highway.
One of the men then stepped out of the vehicle and began firing a gun at the officers and other civilian motorists.
"It was just so scary and horrible and just out of control," Ms Bell, who joined the police force in 2002, told AAP on Friday.
"It's five years later and I still can't believe what happened."
Ms Bell said the incident passed in slow motion, especially once gunshots began and officers ran towards the offender.
"There was no cover for it but we had to try and stop him because there were so many people in the community at risk," she said.
"It just felt natural to run forward towards him.
"You just go into this mode where you do what you've gotta do."
The man was arrested after he was struck by a civilian vehicle on the highway, prompting him to drop his weapon.
Ms Bell said the bravery award was a wonderful acknowledgement of the officers who had risked their lives during n the pursuit.
"It's quite nice to be recognised for being involved in an incident that ultimately did change your life and you as a person," she said.
Originally published as Police honoured for facing down gunman