New top cop is no stranger to Karratha
It has been 34 years since WA police officer Paul Coombes first served in Karratha, and with his appointment as the new Superintendent of Pilbara District Police, there is a sense of coming full circle.
“I spent a year here as a cadet as an 18 year old and have tremendously fond memories of my time here, so it is special to come back,” he said.
With those times including playing football with the Karratha Kats and attending cyclone parties, he is already quite acclimatised to Pilbara life.
Supt. Coombes has spent most of his police career in the challenging Perth major crime division that investigates all homicides and reportable sudden deaths.
That included spending seven years working on a cold case review of the infamous Claremont serial killings.
Most recently, he served as the District Superintendent for the Perth CBD and has overseen State intelligence.
Supt. Coombes said he was looking forward to doing something “completely different” by heading up the Pilbara police force with a strong social justice focus for the next several years.
“Regional policing is something that I haven’t done throughout my career,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to and I thought it would be a great opportunity.
“I think there is so much that can be done, especially with police-indigenous community relations. There has been some great work done, but I think that we still have a lot of work to do.
“The Pilbara itself is so unique and so diverse, that it is just really interesting and somewhere I’ve always wanted to come back to.
“Already I’m enjoying the more relaxed lifestyle here.”
Supt. Coombes said overall, crime statistics in the Pilbara were steady and police performance was good, but he particularly wanted to focus on countering domestic violence, which remains a problem in the district.
“It was an area when I was at major crime — domestic violence homicides are very prevalent everywhere, Australia-wide, and in this day and age it is something that should not occur to the level that it does,” he said.
“But it’s not just a police issue. Domestic violence involves the community, social, health and education (factors), and all Government agencies need to work closely together to try to achieve some outcomes.”