State Funeral of Senior Constable Brett Forte

 

Senior Constable Brett Forte's wife Susan stands next to her daughter Emma during his funeral in Toowoomba, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Senior Constable Forte was killed on May 29 near Gatton, when gunman Ryan Maddison opened fire on officers before he was eventually shot dead after an overnight siege. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING
Senior Constable Brett Forte's wife Susan stands next to her daughter Emma during his funeral in Toowoomba, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Senior Constable Forte was killed on May 29 near Gatton, when gunman Ryan Maddison opened fire on officers before he was eventually shot dead after an overnight siege. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING DAN PELED

LIVE COVERAGE

 

GUARD OF HONOUR 12.39PM:  Police officers, serving and retired, are making a final farewell to their fallen colleague.

A Guard of Honour is taking place along Baker St and follows an emotional funeral service for Senior Constable Brett Forte.

Along with police officers and dignitaries there are 50 police dogs, 85 motorbikes and two police choppers involved in the procession. 

Hundreds of officers will salute the hearse carrying Snr Const Forte's coffin as it drives down the street, with Commissioner Ian Stewart maintaining his salute in the procession the entire way.

After the motorcade has made its way past the officers, it will make its way to a private burial site for the family. The police helicopter will also do a fly over.

Senior Constable Brett Forte's wife Susie shed tears as the coffin of her husband was led out of the Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre.

Commissioner Ian Stewart along with Deputy Commissioners Brett Pointing, Steve Gollschewski, Peter Martin and Assistant Commissioner Tony Wright saluted the coffin as it was led out.

Officer-in-charge of the Toowoomba Tactical Crime Squad Senior Sergeant Scott Stahlhut will carry a cushion with Snr Const Forte's citations and medals behind the hearse.

Sergeant Glen Thomas from the Helidon police station is representing the first responders and will carry a photograph of Snr Const Forte behind the hearse.

 

Senior Constable Brett Forte's wife Susan becomes emotional while reading her eulogy during his funeral in Toowoomba
Senior Constable Brett Forte's wife Susan becomes emotional while reading her eulogy during his funeral in Toowoomba

 

The Guard of Honour is about to make its way along Baker St, with serving and retired officers and staff lining both sides stretching up to one kilometre.

The Guard of Honour will also include the Police Pipes and Drums Band followed by 70 police motorcyclists, 50 police dogs and seven police horses. 

The Police Ode was read out by an emotional Southern Region Assistant Commissioner Tony Wright at the funeral of officer Brett Forte today.

"We will remember," he said at the end of the ode.

His ode was followed by the Sounding of the Requiescant, a lone bugler playing The Last Post, along with one minute's silence.

"With honour he served," Assistant Commissioner Wright said.

Rev Jeff Baills then concluded the ceremony and initiated the final public tribute to Snr Const Forte, a Guard of Honour along Baker St.

 

VALOUR AWARD 12.15PM: Commissioner Ian Stewart has awarded Brett Forte with one of the highest honours from the Queensland Police Service.

The Queensland Police Service Valour Award is presented to an officer who performs an act of exceptional bravery in hazardous circumstances.

The commissioner presented the award for Snr Const Forte, along with a National Medal and National Police Service Medal, to his widow Susie and the Forte family.

"Today it is my great honour to present this valour award," he said.

 

 

"I also present the Queensland Police Service flag as a symbol of the Queensland Police Service and the community Brett served."

Comm Stewart today delivered touching words about his colleague Brett Forte who bravely served his community with what he described as great integrity and dedication.

Comm Stewart read the valedictory at the funeral, speaking about the senior constable's history with the Queensland Police Service.

Snr Const Forte was born on August 25, 1975 to parents Stuart and Heather.

He attended Kippa Ring State School, Redcliffe State High School and Clontarf Beach State High School. While undertaking tertiary studies he was employed as a construction industry technician before he decided to become a police officer.

 

 

At 26 years old he entered the police academy and became a recruit on May 14, 2001. He was sworn in on November 27, 2001 and spent a year in Ipswich as a First Year Constable.

"Brett demonstrated a natural aptitude for police work, impressing his supervisors early in his career as a hardworking and motivated officer and from a very stage he became known for his quick wit and cracking sense of humour," Comm Stewart said.

Snr Const Forte also spent time at Cunnamulla before transferring to Toowoomba general duties in 2003.

"It was during this time Brett met his partner and fellow police officer Susie, who he married in September 2012," Comm Stewart said.

"Brett was a calm, confident and measured officer who developed a strong aptitude for road policing. His ability to lift the morale and camaraderie of his colleagues through humour was well known."

 

 

Snr Const Forte was selected to perform duties in the Toowoomba Tactical Crime Squad before moving to Caboolture in 2009 and moving back to Toowoomba in 2012.

"Brett leaves a far-reaching legacy on the Queensland Police Service and on the communities he served," Comm Stewart said.

"He will be remembered by the many victims and families to whom he showed compassion and support."

Comm Stewart said while Snr Const Forte's dedication to duty was never in questions, his dedication to his family was complete.

"Today we say farewell to our friend Brett. He served with honour and it is we who are honoured to have known and served with him."

 

ACT OF EVIL 12.04PM: Southern Police Region Police Chaplain Jeff Baills has offered words of comfort to the friends, family, colleagues and members of the community at the funeral of officer Brett Forte.

"From the youngest to the oldest, from around the state and across the nation we have come together as one," he said. "To mourn the loss of a man who lost his life to a mindless, senseless act of pure evil.

"This has not only touched our lives, but the lives of a generation to come in Brett's children."

Rev Baills noted the tributes to Brett, including a young boy laying flowers at the Neil St memorial, to a group of elderly people visiting the memorial from a nursing home. He even said a police officer had been told at a local coffee shop how Snr Const Forte had saved her life.

"Whether we are drawn here today because of an inexpressible desire to show our loving support for the family or by the call that is placed deep in our hearts, the conviction that justice must be upheld," he said.

"Can I suggest for us to consider we are actually drawn here today out of love."

Senior Constable Brett Forte's casket is seen during his funeral service in Toowoomba, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Senior Constable Forte was killed on May 29 near Gatton, when gunman Ryan Maddison opened fire on officers before he was shot dead after an overnight siege. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING
Senior Constable Brett Forte's casket is seen during his funeral service in Toowoomba, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Senior Constable Forte was killed on May 29 near Gatton, when gunman Ryan Maddison opened fire on officers before he was shot dead after an overnight siege. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING DAN PELED

 

EULOGY 12PM: Brett Forte has been remembered as a family man and a loveable larrikin who above all was selfless and considerate.

Family friend Jeff Lancaster stood before thousands of people to read the eulogy of Senior Constable Forte who he said was a son, brother, friend, uncle, team mate, colleague, father and husband.

"I stand before you today, a representative of a family in grief. Not one family. But many," he said.

"Families united by our love, admiration and respect for one man: Brett Andrew Forte.

Mourners gather to pay their respects to Senior Constable Brett Forte.
Mourners gather to pay their respects to Senior Constable Brett Forte. Kevin Farmer

"The common thread that is delicately woven through the fabric of all Brett's relationships though is humour. And it is this humour that connects many of us to this wonderful human being."

Mr Lancaster remembered Snr Const Forte as bawdy, self-deprecating, sarcastic and funny but who also had a serious side and was committed to serving and protecting the people of Queensland.

Snr Const Forte, Mr Lancaster said, was destined to become a cop - along with his grandfather, father and uncle.

"As much as he loved his family, his friends and the job though, Brett found his true purpose with Susie. And here, in Toowoomba, he found a home," he said.

Mr Lancaster spoke directly to Snr Const Forte's wife Susie and their three children, Emma, Brodie and Sam, and pledged "we will be there to help you, hold you, support you".

"Whenever you need us. Because that's what families do."

After the eulogy, Snr Const Forte's three young children laid a teddy bear of the coffin of their father. That was followed by a photographic tribute for the man remembered as a hero. 

 

WIFE SPEAKS 11.42AM: Husband and father-of-three Brett Forte has been remembered by his wife Susie and step-daughter Emma with a touching tribute.

An emotional Senior Constable Susie Forte thanked the community of Toowoomba, Queensland and Australia for their support over the past week.

She also thanked her police family for all the support.

"Brett would have absolutely loved all the attention," she said.

"Thank you to those first responders who were with Brett when he passed.

"It gives me great comfort to know he was with close friends. Particularly his work wife Cath."

She then went on to thank her "wonderful husband Brett".

"You were a fantastic husband to me and father to our children," she said.

"I promise to raise our children with the values you held dear.

"You were my hero and my soul mate and I will love you forever."

Snr Const Forte's step-daughter Emma explained the definition of a hero, and said that was a perfect example of her dad.

"Brett believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself," she said.

"To our family you were the world.

"Rest in peace my guardian angel."

 

BROTHERS REMEMBER: Brett Forte's brothers Chris and Luke have spoken at the funeral of their much-loved brother.

The senior constable's older brothers read out letters on behalf of their parents Stuart and Heather.

Heather wrote that part of her heart and soul had been lost and publicly thanked her son's workmates and said they should be recognised for their bravery.

"Evil will only survive if good men do nothing," Heather wrote.

His father Stuart wrote about how proud he was of his son, especially for his actions on the day when he lost his life.

"I love how you love Susan with all of your heart and she loves you back with all of her being," he wrote.

"You have made us so proud. I love you so much."

His brothers then read a poem they had written about Brett and said his title of hero would forever be preserved.

 

11AM: Commissioner Ian Stewart has marked the opening of the funeral of slain police officer Senior Constable Brett Forte where thousands of people have gathered to pay their respects.

Comm Stewart laid a wreath on the coffin of the fallen officer before saluting it, signalling the beginning of the service at the Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre.

The Southern Police Region Police Chaplain Reverend Jeff Bailis will officiate at the funeral with the assistance of Rev Mark Govan from the Baptist Church, Rev Peter Devenish-Meares from the Catholic Church and Revs Dan Talbot and Charles Holmes from the Anglican Church.

The Colour Party, made up of three police officers carrying the Australian, Queensland and Queensland Police Service flags made their way into the centre to the sound of a muted, lone drum beat.

Rev Bailis welcomed the about 2000 mourners inside before inviting Rev Devenish-Meares to recite the opening prayer.

 

10.55AM: Queenslanders across the state are preparing to stop to pay their respects to Toowoomba Senior Constable Brett Forte.

There are emotional scenes at Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre as people stream into the centre, ready for the funeral at 11am.

About 5000 people are expected to pay their respects to the Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad officer who was murdered on duty last Monday.

Hundreds of uniformed police officers are continuing to arrive to farewell their fallen colleague Brett Forte.

The Clive Berghofer auditorium, able to seat 2000 people, is now full.

Another 3000 people are able to be seated outside where a large screen will broadcast the service.

The formal service will begin about 11am.

Representatives from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and Queensland Ambulance, as well as State Emergency Service members and residents are among the large crowd.

 

EARLIER 10am: Thousands of people are expected to pay their respects to slain Toowoomba policeman Brett Forte today.

Representatives from every police force in Australia, as well as high-ranking officials from New Zealand and the United States, will be among the expected crowd of about 5000 people at the Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre from 11am today.

It will be among the largest funeral processions in Toowoomba's history.

 

 

Governor of Queensland Paul De Jersey and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, along with Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls, will be among the dignitaries.

Federal MP Peter Dutton and Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson will also attend the service.

The Queensland Police Service top brass, along with high-ranking officers from all state and territory police forces around the country, will pay their respects at the funeral.

 

Mourners gather to pay their respects to Senior Constable Brett Forte.
Mourners gather to pay their respects to Senior Constable Brett Forte. Kevin Farmer

 

Representatives of international police forces including New Zealand and the New York Police Department will also attend the service which comes 10 days after Snr Const Forte was murdered while on duty.

He was shot and killed by gunman Rick Maddison near Gatton last Monday.

Maddison was shot dead last Tuesday after a 20-hour siege on a rural property in the Lockyer Valley.

 

 

EARLIER 8am: A solemn and respectful State Funeral will farewell Senior Constable Brett Forte with full police honours this morning.

About 5000 people are expected to pay their respects to the Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad officer who was murdered on duty last Monday.

The Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre on Baker St at the University of Southern Queensland will seat 2000 people inside, with further seating outside for members of the public who wish to attend from 11am.

A Guard of Honour will be formed by former and serving members of the Queensland Police Service and its executive leadership team, with several policing units leading the motorcade and cortege.

Cards left at the growing memorial outside the Neil St police headquarters will be collected and delivered to Snr Const. Forte's family in coming days and weeks, it is understood.

"(Today) is going to be a very solemn occasion for the funeral of Senior Constable Brett Forte from the Darling Downs Tactical Crime Squad," Inspector Sharee Cumming said.

"We would like the public to know that it is an open funeral so should anyone wish to attend they are quite welcome to.

"I do need to advise there are going to be a number of road closures from 7am ... commencing with the closure of the intersection of West and Baker St."

Police have asked motorists to avoid the southern end of West St near Baker St and the southern end of the USQ campus for the majority of the day.

"There is plenty of seating arranged by the University of Southern Queensland outside the venue for those people who can't actually get inside," Insp. Cumming said.

"We're encouraging people if you would like a seat inside to arrive early.

"If not, there is seating outside and we will have people on hand to assist you.

"This is an opportunity for our dignitaries, the members of the Queensland Police Service current and retired, as well as the community in general ... to pay their respects to the family of Snr Const. Brett Forte and the service that he paid to the community.

"We have a large contingent (of police officers) from various parts of southeast Queensland who are assisting our local police in performing normal policing duties to allow our local officers to attend the funeral and pay their respects."

The Chronicle will endeavour to livestream the service on its website.

USQ has advised classes, scheduled campus business and operations will continue as normal today.

However, the Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre will be closed for all gym and associated classes and activities, and all car parks accessed from Baker St will not be available for any USQ use.

Some areas will have restricted pedestrian access which will also impact some residential colleges.

Signs with directions have been set up since yesterday advising of the changes.

Temporary car parking arrangements have been organised for students and staff at the front entrance to the campus off West St, with the inter-campus bus pick-up and drop-off point moved to the windmill.



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