Victoria Police’s “blue family” joined hundreds of mourners in Ballarat on Thursday to remember Acting Senior Sergeant Barry Hills, who was killed in a motorcycle crash earlier this month.
The 52-year-old father of three was off duty when he died in the Bacchus Marsh suburb of Darley on September 8.
Inspector Brendon McCrory, who recruited Acting Senior Sergeant Hills to work in the Moorabool policing area around Ballarat, called his former colleague a “loyal lieutenant, but most importantly, one of my best mates”.
Despite being promoted, Acting Senior Sergeant Hills was more than happy to work night shifts and as the ‘251’, co-ordinating police on the beat so other members could have a day off.
Inspector McCrory choked back emotion as he recalled the smash at Darley.
“Division 3 people who worked on that night, thank you from the family, for your professionalism and dedication,” he said.
More than 800 police and friends turned out in support of the Hills family during the ceremony at the Wendouree Centre for the Performing Arts, including Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton and other top brass.
Born in 1965, Acting Senior Sergeant Hills was raised in Ballarat and impressed on the football field from an early age.
He was encouraged by St Kilda football club to move to Melbourne but injury got in the way of an AFL career.
But this was later seen as a blessing as Acting Senior Sergeant Hills returned to Ballarat and met Sally, who he had three children with before joining the police force in the mid-1990s.
And it was during his family life that Acting Senior Sergeant Hills’ true character was revealed.
Behind the the beer-drinking, footy-loving crime fighter, there was a dad who took his two daughters, Ashleigh and Jade, to ballet.
His son Josh said his father had a “heart of gold”.
“I will never forget the day you marched with Victoria Police in the 2016 Pride March to show that you supported me and that you loved me,” Josh said.
“It was something out of your comfort zone, but it is something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.”
Ashleigh said: “Dad, your time here has passed, and all too soon. All the special times will be memories I will hold dearly. You were bloody awesome and I am so proud. I love you.”
Pictures were shown of Acting Senior Sergeant Hills with his grandson, Jade’s son Mason, who he had shared a special bond with.
After the service, hundreds of police formed a guard of honour along Howitt Street as a cortege including motorcycle and mounted police led Acting Senior Sergeant Hills’ casket to a private burial.