Victoria Police’s show and pipe bands received a standing ovation after what could be their final Latrobe Valley performance on Tuesday night.
About 850 people packed into Kernot Hall, Morwell to see the bands during a thankyou concert organised by the Latrobe Valley police force for the community who have supported them throughout the year.
The night also marked the last time the police bands may perform in Latrobe Valley, following a Victoria Police funding decision to axe the Show band and Code One rock band and civilianise the Pipe Band while limiting the number of their appearances from 2014.
Community Liaison Officer Leading Senior Constable Brett Godden said the concert, which was always enjoyed, had a very emotional atmosphere, with the community’s “strong feelings for the band” obvious.
Ldg Snr Const Godden said these feelings were reciprocated by the bands’ members.
“Talking to some of the band members after the show they said they have an absolute ball and how much they love coming back here,” Ldg Snr Const Godden said.
He said he hoped to be able to get the Pipe Band back to the Valley in 2014, maybe for a concert similar to one held during Seniors Week in 2012, when there was an early performance for school children and a later one for seniors.
Attendee Marilyn May said the concert was “absolutely wonderful”.
“I got a chance to talk to some of the band members and told them that Moe is fighting for them and I think they really appreciated that,” Ms May said.
“A person from neighbourhood watch was handing out leaflets advising residents how to write to their local member to try and get decision reversed.”
A group of Victoria Police band supporters campaigning for the organisation to reverse its decision to cut two of its three bands has thanked the Latrobe Valley community for its support.
Band Together member Melanie Schoo said the group formed within a week of Victoria Police’s announcement to cut the Show and Code One bands from 2014 and civilianise the Pipe Band.
Ms Shoo said the group had support from the Moe Traders Association to collect 6500 signatures for a petition presented to parliament, with MTA collecting 500 signatures.
“We really hope that Victoria Police sees common sense,” Ms Shoo said.
“In government budgets, the cost (to run the bands) is a minuscule amount, yet the bands connect to up to one million people a year and can be people’s only positive interaction with the police.
“Hopefully by highlighting this, we reinforce that for such a very small cost they can continue to maintain something that benefits the whole of Victoria.”
In a recent letter sent to Latrobe City on behalf of the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, his office spokesperson Robert Clegg said the decision was made to ensure “we meet the competing demands for our resources”.
“The positions currently occupied by Code One and the Show band will be deployed to the frontline to assist our core role in improving community safety and providing the best possible police service