THE DAY THE COPS HAD TO BEAT IT
KYABRAM police officers Brenda Wallis and Shane Roberts on the job.
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.
Senior Constable Shane Roberts stays on the lookout while he drives, and, inset, gives a warning to a man caught spitting in the street.