The police force can be a tough place for a woman, but Deborah Wallace rose to the top with grace, humour and an iconic sense of style.
In her incredible 36-year career with NSW Police, Wallace took on murderers and drug suppliers, and dismantled the state’s most nefarious gangs – all while armed with her trademark heels and colourful sense of style.
A police trailblazer, Deborah Wallace joined the NSW Police Force in 1983, starting at the Blacktown station. Wallace gained notoriety early in her career, when she was involved in the investigation into the murder of 26-year-old nurse Anita Cobby.
Tenacious, perceptive and sharp, Wallace commanded a range of police crime squads, bringing order to the wild west of 1990s Cabramatta and busting criminal bikie gangs with Strike Force Raptor, until her retirement in late 2019.
A woman of force, her inner strength and empathy meant that she was a constant go-to for some of the state’s toughest cases, and her poise and compassion earned her a special place in the lives and hearts of her colleagues – and the grudging respect of her criminal foes.
Known as the ‘gangbuster’ – throughout her career Wallace delved into the dark underbelly of crime investigating and dismantled some of the state’s most feared gangs.
Mark Morri worked in the 1980s as a crime reporter, covering the Sydney gangland murders, the Father’s Day Bikie massacre and the abduction of Sydney schoolgirl, Samantha Knight. Morri covered the murder of 26-year-old nurse Anita Cobby which was investigated by Deborah Wallace in 1986.
Promoted to Chief of Staff at the Daily Mirror, he still specialised in crime reporting, covering the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 and the backpacker murders by Ivan Milat. He worked for a brief time on the New York Post before returning to the Daily Telegraph again as Chief of Staff.
Over the past thirty-five years, Mark has covered nearly every major crime in Sydney, building contacts throughout the police force (and the criminal world). He lives in Sydney and is currently the crime editor of the Daily Telegraph.
Image: A Woman of Force – the True Story of Deborah Wallace – courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia