11 June, 2023
Locals ask why police are not ‘walking the beat’
MEMBERS of the public have come forward on social media and asked why front-line officers are no longer seen “walking the beat” around town.
As crime continues to escalate in Mareeba and businesses are repeatedly targeted by juvenile criminals, locals have been asking for a more pronounced police presence on the street.
Mareeba Police Station Officer in charge, Senior Sergeant Derek Garner, loves to walk the beat himself and believes it is a great way to connect with the community, hear their concerns and provide relief to those feeling any angst.
“I like to go and walk the beat, going through the shopping centres in particular and I see the positive reactions,” he said.
“I agree that hitting the beat in the CBD area is a great means of engaging with the public, improving perceptions of public safety and also detaining people with anti-social behaviour.”
While Snr Sgt Garner would love to allocate more officers to patrolling the streets, they often have their hands full with higher priority tasks such as family and domestic violence calls which account for roughly 40 per cent of policing time by the Tablelands Patrol Group.
“When we get the opportunity to dedicate officer hours to the beat, we do that but unfortunately a lot of our policing time is taken up by domestic and family violence alone and there are other policing aspects as well,” he said.
“So that leaves restricted time to dedicate towards beat duties and it is something I would love to do more of – if we had the availability to do more beat hours, we would.”
Police Liaison Officers (PLAs) are often out on the street, talking with businesses and engaging the community however they are not frontline officers and cannot act when they see an issue.
“I do know they (PLAs) do a great job when they are out there,” Sgt Garner said.
“Yes, extra officers would improve the opportunity to dedicate hours to those strategies (hitting the beat) but we also have to consider where we have officers.”
On Facebook, Morgan Odette Ninness said while police on the beat would help, the real issue lies with legislation and how little juvenile criminals are punished.
“Walking the streets may deter them but the real issue is the penalties and charges they get,” she said.
“If they want to act like adults and run the streets like gang members then they need to be charged as such.”
Neil Sandall – Vear believes having more officers on the street would be effective especially if they do patrols during the night as well.
Corey Comfort suggested having security guards at certain venues who could liaise with police would also be a suitable option.