NSW Police saved the rest of Australia from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the head of the state's police union.
NSW Police Association president Tony King made the claim in a speech to the organisation's biennial conference in Wollongong on Tuesday.
"While the community was isolating at home, police were on the street, as always, maintaining law and order," Mr King said.
"While the community were being advised to stay away from high-risk situations and potential exposure, police were walking into them.
"I believe the actions of the NSW Police Force by securing the gateway to Australia in the way we did has in fact saved the rest of the country," he said.
Mr King said the police had been treated with "contempt" by the government in award negotiations and a legal case around pay.
He argued that "lumping police under the generic or ordinary term of 'public servant'" was "downright insulting" because police risk their lives in their work for the safety of others.
"Yet apart from being thrown under the bus on other issues, we are being put on the same bus as other professions that bear no resemblance to ours, not even near to it," he said.
"And we are given a back seat on that bus."
Mr King also complained that media reporting about police is often unbalanced and leaves out the positive relationship-building officers do in communities.