SOLE police station officers from Boolarra and Rawson have welcomed the State Government’s commitment to keep one-man stations operating.
Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday denied reports one-man police stations could be axed, following an article in The Weekly Times stating the future of 105 Victorian such out-posts was uncertain.
The article detailed lone police officer concerns regarding the future of their stations. In a statement yesterday morning, Police Minister Wade Noonan said the government supported one-man police stations and would stick to a promise he made in February to keep all police stations open.
“This government does not support the forcible closure of police stations against the wishes of local communities. We understand they are an important fabric of many small towns in this state,” Mr Noonan said.
While they had not yet heard about the reported concerns, Rawson Leading Senior Constable Ian Naughton and Boolarra Leading Senior Constable Gary Mills hoped the State Government had recognised their importance.
Ldg Snr Const Naughton said his role in the Rawson community was not limited to regular police work.
“It’s a completely different style of policing and a completely different role we take on,” Ldg Snr Const Naughton said.
“We provide the visible police presence and we become a part of the community, we’re somebody that people come to trust and know and are able to approach.
“A lot of people in smaller towns don’t like going into and approaching the bigger stations and talking to the police there because a lot of the time they don’t understand the goings on in smaller towns.”
Ldg Snr Const Mills said he knew of reviews into the manning of stations and was aware of an over-arching concern for the safety of lone police officers.
“I guess the perception is with the high (terrorism threat) alert out there it could be dangerous,” Ldg Snr Const Mills said.
Operating as a lone police officer for more than 30 years, Ldg Snr Const Mills said residents trusted their local police officer and would often wait until he returned from holidays to report.
“It takes a lot of years to build that confidence up with them, but you owe it to them in small towns like this to give them that personal one-on-one basis,” he said.