Farewell to an officer at the heart of Falmouth policing
FALMOUTH has lost the knowledge and experience of a police officer with a 26-year career in the force.
Colleagues have said farewell to Sergeant Dave O'Neill, who was forced to retire as part of Devon and Cornwall Police's budget cuts.
Although regulation A19, which asks long-serving officers to retire, was suspended a few weeks ago, Sergeant O'Neill said he decided not to stay on.
"I had to think long and hard about it and it was with a heavy heart because I love this job, but I could not have that uncertainty hanging over me," he said.
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The 50-year-old who lives in Penryn with wife Jeanette was now looking forward to a new chapter in his life. The couple have three children and two grandchildren.
After eight years in the Navy, he joined the police.
During a stint in Plymouth he won a bravery award for tackling an armed burglar at a gunsmith's and then left to set up his own delivery company.
But the pull of the force was too much and he came back in 1990, based at the Penryn station.
After being a response officer, he moved into CID and in 2006 became a detective sergeant and crime manager.
In his 22 years based in Penryn and Falmouth he has earned several awards.
He was one of two criminal investigators on an horrific crash at Castle An Dinas involving a digger which resulted in five deaths.
Others were for his work on an armed robbery at Boslowick Post Office, an assault in Perranporth, a baby murder and dealing with an armed man in Falmouth.
He also received a judge's commendation for his work in the Michael Williams paedophile postman case.
But his most "demanding and time-consuming" case was that of the Peter Solheim murder investigation, which he said took up "every working day for two years".
He said of his time: "The whole job has been fantastic and very rewarding.
"The highs are being posted to Falmouth and the people I have met and those at the station as well as putting away villains who deserve it or diverting people away from crime."
Sergeant O'Neill was also responsible for deciding what happens to every case – whether it was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for court action or dealt with through restorative justice."
As a fitting end to his career, he was proud to be asked to represent the force at the Cenotaph in London for the Remembrance service on Sunday.