Community cop honoured

He’s the front man for crime prevention in the Latrobe Valley and the author of the conversational posts on the local Eyewatch Facebook page which his community has come to love and appreciate.

Leading Senior Constable Brett Godden has been formally recognised by his peers, for all the qualities that have endeared him to his work mates and the public for his 32 years on the force.

“I would have much rather kept it a secret, because it’s not my style,” Ldg Snr Const Godden said this week.

But the secret was out. He’d received a Neighbourhood Watch Victoria Award of Honour for his commitment to Gippsland as coordinator for the region.

“Especially having the boss present it to me, I was rapt,” he conceded.

When The Express visited Ldg Snr Const Godden on Tuesday, he was in for a full week of presentations to community groups, churches and children, as well as preparing Crimewatch newsletters for the month and daily updates to the Facebook page, which he said had been one of the biggest wins of his eight years in the role.

Since it began in April, the page has gained more than 4000 ‘likes’ and employed the public’s help to charge 12 people.

“Early in the piece we managed to locate an elderly gentleman in Traralgon and we’ve returned a camera to its owner who didn’t even know it was missing.

“The Eyewatch is pretty much our old-fashioned letter drop. Now we put something on there and we’ve got 4000 people to look at it.”

Ldg Snr Const Godden has attracted compliments on the page about his friendly and relaxed posts which often begin with “Hi folks”.

“That’s just me,” he said.

“It’s the way I do my presentations as well because quite often people see this as a uniform and they don’t see the person inside it.”

Ldg Snr Const Godden joked he could “behave when he needed to”, but he preferred to be himself and he thanked his superiors for giving him the freedom to do so.

“That allows me to do a whole lot of stuff that I know other coordinators aren’t allowed to do,” he said.

Ldg Snr Const Godden’s award will sit next to a divisional commendation he received for his work during the 2009 bushfires, one of the most rewarding times in his career.

“Quite often, you stand in front of 40 to 60 people and you talk about ‘please lock up your cars’, but you don’t know whether they’re going to take that home,” he said.

“With the bushfires, you’d say ‘this person needs a shower’ and it was done.

“It was probably one of the few occasions where I did, and then saw the result.”

His 32 years as a police officer has involved a variety of roles, including in radio communications, where he survived one of Victoria Police’s darkest days.

Ldg Snr Const Godden was working at headquarters on Melbourne’s Russell Street, when the building was bombed on 27 March 1986.

“It was me and my assistant radio operator and we just heard this enormous bang and both of us ended up across the wall,” he said.

“For a little while it was us just looking at each other going ‘what the hell just happened’.

“One of the ironies was the curtains. Everybody hated them and when the bomb went off the curtains got torn to shreds, but they stopped every piece of glass coming into the control centre.

“We all went home that night. I went back the next day. A large number of guys really couldn’t come back to work. They’d get as far as the door.”

Ldg Snr Const Godden hopes to continue to work within the community and build on the success of Eyewatch.

“It’s working with the community and that’s something I think even right from the early days I really enjoyed,” he said.

“It sounds cheesy, but helping the community, at the end of the day that’s what policing’s about.

“This is just another way of doing it.”