THE DAY THE COPS HAD TO BEAT IT

KYABRAM po­lice of­fi­cers Brenda Wal­lis and Shane Roberts on the job.

Kyabram Free Press - - FRONT PAGE -

SIT­TING in the back seat of a po­lice car for a day, I caught a glimpse into just how in­te­gral lo­cal po­lice are to our town’s safety.

And while they may have limited re­sources, there’s no limit to the work they’ll do to pro­tect us.

While Kyabram played nice for our ride along, it’s ev­i­dent a day in the life of a lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cer can be far from dull.

Just ask Se­nior Con­sta­ble Shane Roberts and Lead­ing Se­nior Con­sta­ble Brenda Wal­lis.

They’ve seen their fair share of gut-wrench­ing tragedies and acts of vi­o­lence in their many years pa­trolling the streets.

And they know the faces, num­ber plates and front doors worth watch­ing.

With the ice epi­demic wheedling its way into Kyabram and bring­ing in­creased crime with it, Snr Con­sta­ble Roberts said lo­cal po­lice were work­ing hard to stamp out its source.

‘‘If we’re un­der the right cir­cum­stances, we can search cars (for drugs). But we have to have good rea­sons, cer­tain cri­te­ria,’’ he said.

‘‘The trou­ble with ice is we’re of­ten look­ing for such small amounts. A sin­gle gram can cost $300 — and imag­ine how dif­fi­cult it would be to find a gram.

‘‘Peo­ple can be amaz­ing at hid­ing it too. We just look for signs that things have been pulled out of place.’’

Driv­ing along, Lead­ing Snr Con­sta­ble Wal­lis seems to roll down her win­dow al­most once a minute, wav­ing to lo­cals and en­gag­ing in brief con­ver­sa­tions.

While it may be gen­uinely so­cial, she’s also do­ing her job, comb­ing the town for any in­for­ma­tion that could be valu­able later on.

Lead­ing Snr Con­sta­ble Wal­lis said tips from lo­cals were of­ten key to their in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

‘‘We rely on in­for­ma­tion from the public. And so­cial me­dia has changed our job a lot as well,’’ she said.

‘‘We do ev­ery­thing ex­pect­ing we’re be­ing filmed. And as much as it can work against us, so­cial me­dia can also be pretty handy. Peo­ple will put in­for­ma­tion on Face­book about a bur­glary and within an hour we can have the name of the of­fender.’’

Both Lead­ing Snr Con­sta­ble Wal­lis and Snr Con­sta­ble Roberts do their ut­most to pa­trol the streets when­ever they can, how­ever this can mean the sta­tion is left unat­tended.

‘‘We’re not a 24-hour po­lice sta­tion, but we do have 24-hour re­sponse. Call 000 if you need us to at­tend, it’s the best way to reach us,’’ Lead­ing Snr Con­sta­ble Wal­lis said.

‘‘The per­cep­tion can be that if there’s no one at the sta­tion, there’s no one on at all. We’re usu­ally on pa­trol or on a job — it’s very rare there’s no one there.’’

Af­ter criss-cross­ing our way across town in the car, we hop out and stroll along the main street.

As we walk, it’s clear Lead­ing Snr Con­sta­ble Wal­lis is in her ele­ment. She seems to have a su­per-hu­man abil­ity to re­mem­ber peo­ple’s names, greet­ing them on foot­paths and in stores.

‘‘This is the sort of stuff I love do­ing — get­ting out and chat­ting to peo­ple,’’ she said. ‘‘Un­for­tu­nately with in­creases in ice use, there are more jobs to re­spond to and not as much time as we’d like to do this.’’

It’s ev­i­dent crime doesn’t rest — even when lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers may want it to.

Re­turn­ing to the sta­tion at the end of the ride along (and for the of­fi­cers to have a lunch break), it isn’t long be­fore the front door buzzer goes off — again. And again. Then the phone rings. Mean­while a pile of pa­per­work lies mock­ingly on each of­fi­cer’s desk, wait­ing to be com­pleted in the time no one has.

But de­spite a con­stant ca­coph­ony of noise and ac­tiv­ity that would leave most of us curled in a trau­ma­tised ball in the cor­ner, both Lead­ing Snr Con­sta­ble Wal­lis and Snr Con­sta­ble Roberts re­main un­ruf­fled.

Through it all, there’s this un­shak­able pos­i­tiv­ity. A knowl­edge that what they do each day could save lives.

Photo: LAURA BUCK­LEY

Se­nior Con­sta­ble Shane Roberts stays on the look­out while he drives, and, in­set, gives a warn­ing to a man caught spit­ting in the street.

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