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Cleo Smith discovered: First police officers at Blowholes describe day they’ll ‘never forget’

It is standard practice for police to treat every job the same — seriously and professionally — no matter what incident it is they are responding to.

But while the cops first on scene when Cleo Smith disappeared did just that, they can now admit it was a “job” like no other — and one they will never forget.

As a father and a Carnarvon local, Constable Grant Schulze was automatically affected by the news four-year-old Cleo Smith had disappeared from her family’s tent at the Blowholes on the morning of Saturday October 16.

“It’s definitely one that’s going to stick with me,” he told The West Australian.

GEN Carnarvon Acting Officer in Charge Sen-Sgt Lindsay Collett at Carnarvon Police Station. Pic. Iain Gillespie The West Australian
Camera IconCarnarvon Acting Officer in Charge Sen-Sgt Lindsay Collett. Credit: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

The 39-year-old, who graduated from the WA Police Academy earlier this year, admitted the 18 days Cleo was missing had tested him.

“You’re new so you’re obviously trying to mould into the community, but that’s challenging to do when it’s something that’s so close to home,” he said.

Cleo Smith abduction case. Ellie Smith and Cleo Smith leave the Carnarvon Police Station.
Camera IconCleo Smith with her mum Ellie. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

“We got out there as fast as we could, and from there did our best.”

The Acting Officer in Charge of the station, Senior Sergeant Lindsay Collett, was part of that team too.

He admitted that while his officers “treat every job the same, this is one that will stick with them”.

Sen-Sgt Collett spent that entire first day with Ms Smith and Mr Gliddon, when Cleo’s disappearance was still being treated as a missing person — not an abduction.

“I got to know them quite well, I spent all day with them during the initial search,” he said.

“It was a very hard day for them.”

Also part of that team first to respond, while crews from Geraldton and further south mobilised, was Constable Gareth Simpson.

The 40-year-old’s wife works with Ms Smith at local day spay Driftwood Beauty Lounge.

He too, as well as his colleague Constable Asim Malik — also among the first six on scene — is in his first year of policing.

“As someone who is still learning, it was amazing to see how quickly we flexed as a team and came together out there,” he said.

Const. Malik agreed.

“The entire thing, and the result, it’s all something I don’t think we will ever forget,” he said.

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