Young officers want to be heard

The potential ‘re-engineering’ of the Cootamundra Local Area Command has been put off until after the October 14 by-election.

On Friday NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller announced 42 Sydney Local Area Commands will be reduce to 32 new "Police Area Commands" in the city as part of the ‘re-engineering’ process of LACs in NSW.

But the announcement for Cootamundra LAC which includes Young has been delayed.

Shadow Minister for Police Guy Zangari said this announcement has been delayed only because of the impending by-elections – leaving communities in the regions in the dark about the future of their police force. 

A group of local officers have come forward asking their identities be kept private due to concerns for their positions.

The officers are concerned with the possibility of the mergers and what it will mean to Young and the surrounding communities.

“If the amalgamations were to go ahead it would have a major effect on the Young Police Station as Young will then come under Goulburn LAC along with Grenfell, Boorowa and Cootamundra and Tumut area will come under Wagga, therefore the Cootamundra LAC and resources will be totally divided,” one officer said.

“The distance being some two hours will also impact on all the known resources which the Coota LAC now enjoy and utilise on a daily basis.”

The officers said the current local roles of specialist officers “which are not front line,” include Youth Liaison Officers, Domestic Violence Liaison Officers, Crime Co-ordinators, Intelligence Officers Civilian and Police along with the Target Action Group would more than likely be stationed at the Goulburn LAC office and outstationed to Young.

“All these officers have received expensive on-going specialist training and this will all be lost with the amalgamation.” Another officer said, “These officers will either be placed back on the truck or forced to leave the area to benefit another area.

“As far as looking after victims of crime, attending court to support victims Young will be left out as Goulburn has it’s own issues and they will definitely look after their own interests first.”

The officers said by taking away specialist units like liquor licensing, YLO DVLO and CPO these jobs will then be left to general duties police to pick up and with their current workloads all policing in the Young area will be re-active as there will be no time for officers to be pro-active as they currently are.

“Young has a very high reporting of domestic violence which in turn requires police to apply for Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO) and I believe that per population a very high amount of AVOs go through our court system yearly,” an officer said. 

“The DVLO’s role is to support the victim through this process and without the officer many victims would rescind or not go through with the orders. 

“Domestic and family violence is at the forefront of policing and this would be a massive step back for the community to remove this role locally.”

All officers believe the merger or “re-engineering” of the Cootamundra LAC would see a rise in crime without the support of other police on the front line.

They also believe there will never be an increase to police numbers in Young despite the announcement from Nationals candidate Stephanie Cook of increased numbers in the area.

“Along with the division police will lose respect from the community as the service currently supplied will be reduced,” one officer said.

All agree that the local knowledge and relationships the current police in Young have will be broken.

“Goulburn police will not have the respect and diligence that local police have and show.

“Along with losing the Local Area Commander and several duty officers, years of policing knowledge will either move on or retire.”

According to the officers Stephanie Cooke’s announcement showed she has no knowledge or understanding of and the Nationals candidate is just reciting Troy Grant’s broken promises.

The group as a whole all believe the Cootamundra LAC should remain as it is with specialist and support staff remaining in the local area.

“It shouldn’t be carved and divided up into lots of pieces as Wagga and Goulburn LAC already have high crime rates and extra burdens on them.”

Officers said their understanding is that despite the delay the mergers would go ahead after the by-election.