Jack Knife is the story of my journey as a fully operational police officer working at some for the busiest and hardest police stations within the State of New South Wales (NSW) in which I had the privilege of being both an apprentice and a leader.

I discuss my career from beginning to end and the failing of the system which I trusted and believed in as a result of the lessons learned and instilled in us whilst at the police academy. 

Jack Knife is about trust. It is about loyalty. It is about mateship. It is about courage and determination. It is about trusting others with your life and others trusting you with theirs.

Jack Knife not only discusses integrity and human rights, but raises questions relating to ‘normal standards’ within our society, and debates them from a  logistical aspect and environment in which I was subjected to.

Jack Knife contains a range of operational police stories varying between saving peoples lives through to almost losing my own and an array of stories in between. My story gives the reader an insight into my life as a policeman and my demise thereafter. I discuss issues that I personally have lived through and been apart of, and in many cases most people have only seen on television. 

Ultimately Jack Knife has been written to educate, not only serving police officers and their families, but the general public. This book is the TRUTH as to what really goes on behind the front line of the policing world. I have written this book with the intention of assisting those that have been diagnosed with PTSD. In addition I wish to put positive pressure on every Police Force within Australia to change their ways so that the engine room of the force is looked after the way in which they deserve to be looked after and treated with respect, just as the management expect our police to treat members of the public.

After all police are human too and deserve to be treated like human beings as opposed to the robots we are publicly at times made out to be by police management and the media. 

Jack Knife is an all inspiring book about, not only the NSW Police Force, but a  policeman with two arms, two legs and a heartbeat. In other words a regular human being just doing his best to serve his State the only way he knew how.


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ISBN: 978-1-921919-08-4
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 390
Genre: Non Fiction



Author: Paul 'Little Jack' Horner
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2011
Language: English



I write this book in dedication to, and in the memory of the late Gregory Michael Jackson. Jacko was a fantastic police officer whom I had the pleasure of working with at Cabramatta and Bourke Police Stations. He was a true gentleman who loved and adored his friends, family and work mates. He had one of the most fun loving personalities one could ever encounter with a special way of making the average Joe Blow feel safe and welcome once in his presence.  Jacko was a man who was loved and spoken about far and wide, and without doubt a tremendous mate of mine and many others WHETHER HE LIKES IT OR NOT.


Rarely does one get an insight into the world of a police officer as recounted in Paul Horner’s book. Paul’s story is one of a childhood dream, of shattered illusions, a life out of control, trauma, and ultimately of healing. You, like many other Australians who have a fascination for law and order in our society, will find this both an informative and emotionally touching read. A human story of the person behind the uniform. 

I first met Paul when he was admitted to the private psychiatric clinic at which I have worked for the past ten years as a psychologist. My work focuses on patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), as well as other anxiety and mood disorders, and substance-abuse issues. Paul had been admitted as an in-patient to deal with issues related to all of the above. Upon discharge from the hospital, I continued to see Paul in my private practice. 

Paul’s story comes at a time when understanding mental health issues and the impact they have on individuals, families and the community, are evermore important. Police today are regularly in the spotlight of the media, often putting their lives on the line, having to be accountable for their actions, what is less in the spotlight is the accountability of the systems within the Police Force to protect its members from suffering the impacts of this high-risk work. 

Through this story Paul systematically and engagingly takes us through the world of policing on the front line weaving together both the highs and lows of this life from a very personal and brutally honest perspective. 

His journey of recovery from this has been a long and at times arduous ordeal, I have witnessed Paul go through the depths of despair, relapsing into his old patterns of coping with excessive drinking, confronting his traumatic memories, gradually working through them and dealing with the trials of extricating himself from a life he didn’t want to let go of. He has had periods of highs, only to sink into deep depressions again. We have gone through this cycle many times over the past few years. 

I have talked on many occasions with Paul about publishing this book and I know his hopes are that people will read this not only to gain an insight into PTSD and the pressures police are under, but to prompt action within the NSW Police Force, to highlight the need for better support for police officers, to prevent others from engaging in self-destructive behaviours, to encourage change within a profession he still admires and grieves over. 

Paul is now rebuilding his life, he still has the occasional nightmare and will still have flashbacks, but he now has the courage and skills to manage these times. He is building a new career for himself and his family and relies on his own ability to cope rather than using alcohol. 

Philippa Kelly BSc (Psych), Grad Dip (Psych)



I have wanted to be a cop since I was a toddler. I’ll never forget as a young child seeing a motorbike on the street and saying to my dad, “When I grow up I want to be a policeman and ride a motorbike.” Little did I know that this dream (at least half of it) would one day become a reality. 

As I got older my desire to become a police officer had not changed however, my reasoning behind it did. I have always been an active person who loves sport, physical and mental challenges, and loves to spend much of my time outdoors. Further to this I have a real dislike for ‘bullies’ and people that stand over others for personal gain either physical or emotional. I have always gained a personal satisfaction in helping people and am a firm believer that everyone has the right to happiness without having to live in fear. 

I completed Year Eleven at school prior to entering the workforce therefore failing to obtain my higher school certificate (HSC). I was aware it was a requirement to have the HSC in order to be accepted into the New South Wales (NSW) Police so I looked at other areas of employment, at least initially. 

I started out by joining the Navy as a Quarter Master Gunner at 18 years of age. I absolutely hated it and was granted a discharge on compassionate grounds prior to my completion of basic training. 

Once arriving home to St Mary’s in Western Sydney I decided to fulfil a dream of making a first-grade rugby league side in the ‘Winfield Cup’ competition (now known as the NRL). In October 1992 as an 18-year-old man I played trial games with the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Penrith Panthers at a lean 72 kilograms (kg) and was selected in the train-on squad for the Penrith Panthers Presidents Cup squad (under 21’s) in preparation for the 1993 season.

Unfortunately for me I was cut from the squad two weeks prior to the competition starting and was advised to ‘beef up a bit’.

After intense weights training at the gym I piled on 7kg within several months reading 79kg. During this time I played with the local St Mary’s A-Reserve grade and A-Grade squads in 1993 where I was later advised that my playing ability and form throughout the season had drawn the attention of the Penrith selectors and I was set to return to representative football within a matter of weeks. I was out to impress the selectors the following day during a clash with local rivals Blacktown City however, fell victim to a vicious tackle which left me with four fractures to my neck and back. That was the end of my football career, at least for the next five years. 

I later commenced employment with Woolworths where I was eventually offered a casual position with Macs Liquor. I worked my way into the position of Assistant Manager prior to being promoted to Manager. In 1995 there was a great deal of conflict between Woolworths and Macs Liquor which assisted me in my decision to make a career change. 

I worked as a prison officer for the NSW Corrective Services posted to Parramatta Jail for 12 months when I made a decision to join the cops.

Although I didn’t have my HSC, my work experience at that stage was enough to be accepted into the NSW Police commencing training at the Goulburn Police Academy in February 1997.

Whilst serving as a prison officer I applied to both the Northern Territory (NT) and the NSW Police. The NT was my first choice as I had a desire to work and live out bush. I liked the fact that the NT Police was also involved in fisheries in addition to standard policing duties.

As it turned out the NSW Police gave me the golden opportunity first hence I seized it with both hands and was fortunate enough to be accepted.

PART A: –  (Read a sample)


It was a hot day on Sunday 16 February 1997 as I made my way to the NSW Police Academy Goulburn to commence my lifelong career as a police officer. I drove down in my sporty red Holden Barina with both the air conditioner and the radio pumping for the two hours from St Mary’s to Goulburn.

In my possession I had my bag, my glove box full of lollies, my $3,000 cash I had saved, coupled with my pride and aspirations of being a good police officer.

Upon arrival I checked in through the Safety and Security front office where I was given my room key to one of the older residential blocks to the academy where I dragged my gear up three flights of stairs and set up base for the next six months in order to be trained as a cop. 

I quickly sorted out my belongings and got myself up to the bar where it all happens in order to meet the other unsuspecting candidates and try and get to know a few people prior to induction day on Monday 17 February 1997.

Whilst at the bar I met several people I previously knew including Christine (school), Mark (social touch footy) and Jason (St Mary’s Rugby League side). I had no idea that they had even applied to the police yet alone gone to the academy. I was so excited that I actually knew a few people there and was looking forward to the future. 

The next day consisted of introductory lectures involving the logistics of the academy, meeting our group lecturers, and the program that we were about to undertake. In addition we also got fitted for our uniforms and given our text/study books for the next eight weeks.

‘Phase one’ of our program included eight weeks at the academy which involved the ‘warm and fuzzy’ side of policing introducing us to very basic legislation, but more so concentrated on ethics, racial backgrounds of certain cultures and groups of people we were likely to be involved with as police, oh and more ethics.

As there were more than 300 student police in my class – Class 269, we were all divided into groups of roughly 20 – 30 persons which were named Alpha through to Zulu (the phonetic alphabet). I was placed into ‘Sub Class’ E (Echo) which is where I met two great mates, Mick and Steve (see photo page 386). To this day I still remain close to these two clowns, God bless their cotton socks.

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