Then detective sergeant Roger Rogerson (right) and the Herald's Neil Mercer get together in Darlinghurst in 1982. Photo: Peter Morris
It's December 1, 1982, and I've just met detective sergeant Roger Caleb Rogerson at Darlinghurst.
Rogerson has agreed to be interviewed for the first time about the day he shot dead Warren Lanfranchi, a drug dealer among other things, in an inner-city lane.
In the photo, we're on our way to a coffee shop in Oxford Street.
Arrested: Detectives lead Roger Rogerson from his Padstow Heights home. Photo: Nick Moir
Roger, who had previously served with the NSW Police Armed Hold-Up Squad, came armed in the latest fashion, a safari suit. I'm armed with the latest technology, a pager.
As Rogerson talks, I take shorthand notes. My story for The Sydney Morning Herald the next day starts with some quotes.
"I regret it, of course I do. I regret being put in a situation where a man's life is taken. I believe I acted in good faith, and that if I had not shot him, he would have shot me."
Twelve months before our meeting, a jury at the coronial inquest found the detective shot Lanfranchi while trying to arrest him in Dangar Place, Chippendale, but declined to find he acted in self-defence.
Rogerson testified that shortly after the two met by arrangement in Beaumont Street, Chippendale, and walked into the laneway, Lanfranchi realised Rogerson was not alone and that he was about to be arrested.
Lanfranchi pulled a gun on the policeman. Rogerson drew his service revolver and fired two shots.
Rogerson and the other detectives who were in the laneway were cleared, but the controversy lingered and just days before our meeting concerns about the case were raised in the NSW Parliament.
I ask Rogerson about the allegations swirling around - that he's involved in corruption, heroin dealing and skimming the proceeds of armed robberies, and how he owns three blocks of flats.
"The allegations are completely untrue," he says.
The interview lasts 70 minutes. Throughout, he sits directly opposite, clear, calm, composed and still. His gaze never shifts, his piercing blue eyes staring directly at me. If he blinked, I missed it.
It was the first of a number of newspaper and television interviews between us over the decades.
In late 2009 and early 2010, I interviewed Rogerson for hours for a documentary, The Life and Times of Roger Rogerson. He spoke about his career, his pride in the arrest of heavy crims, the allegations of corruption, being cleared of the 1984 attempted murder and bribery of fellow police officer Michael Drury. He talked of the humiliation of doing jail time for perverting the course of justice, the Lanfranchi shooting and the two other men he killed in the line of duty, ''Butchy'' Burns and Philip Weston - both armed robbers.
And how he had never, never been known by anyone as "The Dodger".
When it came to the allegations of wrongdoing, Rogerson maintained his innocence.
He joined the police as a cadet in 1958 and later worked in Glebe in the inner city. In the early 1960s he was sent to Bankstown, first in uniform then in plain clothes.
But he was marked for bigger things, particularly after he impressed "the bull ring", the panel of grizzled officers who grilled young cops wanting to become detectives.
A World War II veteran, Noel Morey, became his senior work partner. Soon Rogerson was investigating - and solving - homicides and gang killings and earning a reputation as one of the best and brightest.
Last week, I asked an experienced and respected former NSW detective about Rogerson's reputation, before his fall from grace.
He replied: "Roger, at his peak, from a police perspective, was academically sound, intellectually sound, an excellent leader of detectives and physically courageous.
"He was in my view the most outstanding detective of his era. In his long period on homicide investigations, I would say he and his then partner, the late detective superintendent Noel Morey, were the most successful investigators of their day, with an incredibly high clear-up rate."
And that was from a man, one of many, who fell out with Rogerson after the 1984 attempted murder of Drury, who was shot and almost killed as he stood in the kitchen of his home. Rogerson was cleared in court, but for decades he was ostracised by many of his workmates.
The former officer described the events of recent days as "very sad and perplexing".
Others say they are "dumbfounded" and "gobsmacked."
In the interview just over four years ago, Rogerson says that as a young detective he quickly learned informers were crucial. "You were successful if you had informers who told you what was happening. I know the whole system has changed today and they use bugging devices and all that sort of thing.''
One informer who became close to Rogerson was the notorious Sydney heroin dealer Ned Smith, who is now serving a life sentence for murder.
It was Smith who drove Lanfranchi to his fateful 1981 meeting with Rogerson in Chippendale. Lanfranchi was led to believe he was going to have a chat.
''Ned played a very prominent role in his demise, the lead-up to his demise," Rogerson recalled.
"He was the one who contacted me saying he [Lanfranchi] wanted to talk to me about doing some deal.
"And I said there was no deal because he was a bloke wanted for [the attempted murder] of a policeman for sure, and bank robberies."
Some former senior detectives believe the heroin dealer, with his huge cashflow, played a crucial role in Rogerson's move to "The Dark Side" - as he called his 2009 memoir.
"When the slide came it was rapid, and I think you can trace it to the time he links up with Smith,'' another retired detective said last week.
According to Rogerson, he first came across Smith after he and another career criminal, Bobby Chapman, attempted a payroll robbery at Fielder's Bakery in Granville about 1976.
"Bobby Chapman and Neddy Smith had been in boys' homes together and they'd both also served fairly long sentences for rape."
Chapman was convicted, but Smith beat the robbery charges. He later contacted Rogerson and became one of his key informants.
Rogerson's last active service was in 1984. But the allegations and charges continued. Some he beat, but in the 1990s he was jailed for perverting the course of justice in relation to $110,000 in false bank accounts.
In May, 1993, he sent me a five-page handwritten letter from Berrima Jail about a number of matters.
The tone was upbeat.
"There are about 16 ex-coppers here, including former deputy commissioner Bill Allen, who is almost 71 years of age and a nice old bloke, so I have plenty of mates to talk to …
"I have been sitting here writing this letter as well as watching the first State of Origin match at Lang Park. Thank God the Blues won. I bet a chocolate bar on them winning. Believe me - that's a big bet down here."
The Blues won at Lang Park again last week, but for 73-year-old Rogerson there's a lot more than a chocolate bar riding on the much bigger game that now looms ahead of him.