TOP COP PLEAS FOR UNITED EFFORT ON ICE
In 2001, I commenced my policing career as a trainee constable at Fitzroy Police Station.
There was a glut of heroin and multiple and tragic daily drug overdoses were not uncommon.
In 2004 I transferred to the inner metropolitan western suburbs and for several years was involved in drug investigation work.
While supply reduction and targeting high risk offenders is a critical part of the drug harm reduction strategy, I couldn’t help but feel that we were only putting a bandaid on a gaping wound.
One small team I worked in processed over 100 drug offenders in a three month period.
One arrest would quickly lead to more and we followed the trail, executing warrants, seizing drugs, paraphernalia and assets and successfully prosecuted offenders.
Many drug traffickers went to jail, but eventually another syndicate member or new player would step up and profit by targeting vulnerable people in our community.
Drug and alcohol services were overwhelmed and court backlogs were considerable.
The harm to individuals partaking in drug use and the flow on effect to their loved ones was devastating.
Fifteen years later, drugs in our community continues to be a wicked problem.
I don’t have the answers, but I do know that police can’t arrest their way out of it. We can’t do it alone.
Since arriving in Wan- garatta as your Local Area Commander, I have become involved in the Wangaratta Local Drug Action Team (LDAT).
The LDAT is an impressive group of people with a shared goal to reduce drug harm in our community.
It’s a progressive and collaborative group of people who understand and identify that no one agency, operating in silo, will be able to achieve the necessary positive change we need.
At a recent meeting I was humbled by the stories of our community members who have lived experiences of loved ones finding themselves in the drug addiction cycle.
It was a timely reminder of the importance of this work and the need for a primary prevention focus.
Once the addiction cycle has taken a hold, it is so incredibly difficult to break it.
And let’s not forget that there are a number of legal drugs, such as alcohol, prescription medication and ever evolving synthetic substances that cause harm in our community.
Police will always have an enforcement role and there is and will always be a need to target high risk offenders.
However, academic research has identified that evidence based approaches at the local level, with a prevention and intelligence focus are far more likely to be effective than traditional policing approaches focused solely on enforcement and disruption.
I’m very proud to be part of the work being undertaken by the Wangaratta LDAT.
...a prevention and intelligence focus are far more likely to be effective than traditional policing approaches focused solely on enforcement and disruption. - Inspector Kerrie Hicks
I encourage everyone to increase their understanding and awareness of the early indicators that someone may be starting to take drugs and to support them in connecting with the many services available.
I also implore anyone with knowledge of drug traffickers preying on our vulnerable for their own profit to tell us.
People can report crime information anonymously to Crime Stoppers either via their website www. crimestoppersvic. com. au or by phone 1800 333 000.
As a vibrant, connected and resilient community, we each have a role to play in keeping an eye out for our neighbours, our colleagues, our friends, our loved ones, our sporting team mates.
If you think they need support, please guide them in the right direction before they become entangled in the criminal justice system.
Prevention is the necessary focus.
It will take a whole of community approach to tackle our wicked drug problem.
We all have a role to play. Are you doing your part?
NO SIMPLE SOLUTION: It will take a whole of community approach to tackle our wicked drug problem according to Inspector Kerrie Hicks.