The 14,000-odd NSW Police members who worked on the border NSW-Victoria border closure have done much for the community - even saving a life - according to their chief.
As some of the final members clocked on for the final hours of the closure, Police Commissioner Mick Fuller thanked his officers who on any given day numbered 650 as the checked vehicles.
"We've had more than five million cars cross through the border checkpoints, nearly 500,000 heavy vehicles, we've had one million permits handed out," he said.
"We've only had a handful of people doing the wrong thing in terms of COVID, we did see over one thousand arrests for criminal and other bad behaviour
"The police certainly did a really good job on the border, not just in terms of COVID, but protecting the local communities. We even had a young girl saved from drowning last night near Moama, from police working on the border."
Commissioner Fuller said the NSW Police Force did not feel a strain in the number of members operating the closure - which included highly specialised officers such as the Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit and Dog Unit.
"I can't deny, I was a pretty happy Commissioner when I got the phone call from the Premier saying this is the date it is going to be over," he said.
"To get 650 police back into their day job is a really important [thing].
"We've had food dropped off, care packages, firewood, we've had people teaching police how to run and keep a fire burning.
"They've been great friends of NSW police during a difficult time and I thank you for that."
There were delays throughout the day at checkpoints as lanes were reduced to one and infrastructure was dismantled.
The NSW Police boss said he was happy with how the closure had worked overall.
"I wouldn't have done anything differently; the reality is, you're talking about five million vehicle movements," he said in response to The Border Mail.
"You're never going to have that without some delays
"We improved the permit scheme, which I think took a lot of pressure off the local towns ... if we had have moved the bubble, it just would have been impossible for us to police.
"I do acknowledge that along the way there were some bumps."
The operation in numbers:
- During the operation, police and ADF members manned 27 border checkpoints within five Police Districts across both Southern and Western Region.
- More than 100,000 police shifts were completed, with an average of 500 police officers manning checkpoints along the border each day.
- More than 80 per cent of vehicle movements were undertaken by local residents within border towns.
- Seventeen Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) and seven charges were laid in relation to border control directions during the operation.
- Almost 800 traffic infringements were issued, and more than 70 charges were laid for a range of offences, including drug supply, weapon possession and drink driving.
The Commissioner joined the NSW Premier and Albury MP Justin Clancy in thanking the Australian Defence Force for their support, which spanned the first three months.
ADF Brigadier Mick Garraway joined the press conference on Sunday morning.
1200 personnel from all three services - Army, Navy and Air Force - deployed from Thursday 9 July 2020 to Friday 30 October 2020.
The operation also benefited from the assistance of other NSW Government agencies, including Transport for NSW, and other law enforcement jurisdictions, including Victoria Police.
He believed it was the force's longest stint in a border closure, being just longer than the Queensland deployment, with around 40 locally-based personnel form the Army Logistic Training Centre supporting the operation daily.
IN OTHER NEWS:
He also told The Border Mail that Defence, Airforce and Navy personnel typically fulfilled two-month rotations at a time, getting to know local people.
"It's not lost on us for a moment, the inconvenience and the imposition on people in bush communities along the border, so we really want to say 'thank you' for your patience, for your perseverance, and for the goodwill that was extended to our troops over a number of months," he said.