New top cop has learned from out­back ex­pe­ri­ence

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS -

WHEN Jamie Chalker steps into the Ter­ri­tory’s top cop job next Mon­day he will take on the role with pur­pose and drive.

He’s spent the past three years head­ing the Hous­ing Depart­ment and be­lieves his time out of the force has given him a fresh per­spec­tive.

Ready to tackle some of the NT’s big­gest so­cial is­sues, Mr Chalker will look to work with all gov­ern­ment agen­cies to cre­ate a preven­tive ap­proach to com­bat crime and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour.

“I be­lieve there’s quite a few so­cial is­sues that if ad­dressed ap­pro­pri­ately we may be able to de­ter peo­ple away from the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem,” Mr Chalker said.

“I’d rather de­vote the time in the early days to an in­di­vid­ual that’s start­ing to show signs that they’re go­ing to do wrong or do harm against an­other in the com­mu­nity and give them so much pro­fes­sional at­ten­tion that they will make the choice not to go down that path.

“I don’t’ want to be lock­ing ev­ery­body up but I will be lock­ing up those who choose to do wrong by the pub­lic of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.”

The NT holds very lit­tle in the way of mys­tery to the Kather­ine-born fa­ther of three, who has seen the good and the bad of the Ter­ri­tory through his work on the front­line.

He has ded­i­cated more than half his 20 plus-year ca­reer as a cop to re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, whet­ting his ap­petite for re­mote work in his first post­ing to Groote Ey­landt.

He went on to work at Alice Springs, Her­manns­burg, Pa­punya and Kalka­ringi. “I can still go for a walk down the street here and in Alice Springs and peo­ple from Pa­punya and Kalka­ringi will al­ways come up to me and say g’day. Even lit­tle fel­las will run up and say ‘you’re the po­lice man from back then’,” Mr Chalker said.

“When you have that type of en­gage­ment you see polic­ing very dif­fer­ently and I think it also high­lights the im­por­tance of treat­ing peo­ple the way you like to be treated your­self. That’s cer­tainly a mes­sage I’ll be get­ting through the whole of the po­lice force.”

He said he and his wife of­ten rem­i­nisced about the good old days work­ing in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

He be­lieves he’s a bet­ter cop for his time out bush.

His of­fice is lit­tered with an en­vi­able col­lec­tion of in­dige­nous art – picked up along the way from places and peo­ple that have had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on his life.

While he doesn’t want to go down the path of forc­ing cops to work in re­mote lo­ca­tions he does be­lieve polic­ing in com­mu­ni­ties en­riches one’s life.

“To go and live as a mi­nor­ity among Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple, and if they take to you be­cause you’re cour­te­ous, you’re em­pa­thetic and fair then they will em­brace you, and knowl­edge they im­part on you will in my opin­ion make you a far bet­ter hu­man be­ing,” he said.

He’s also ready to tackle the use of so­cial me­dia to re­port on crime.

Mr Chalker said across the world po­lice had strug­gled to keep up with the rapidly chang­ing world of so­cial me­dia and it’s im­pact on crime. He said peo­ple’s per­cep­tions weren’t al­ways on par with fact and so­cial me­dia had a role in skew­ing that.

“The broader part (of so­cial me­dia) that I have a con­cern with is more peo­ple are be­ing ex­posed to the harms as­so­ci­ated with crime be­cause of the sto­ries they are read­ing and that im­pacts their own emo­tional well­be­ing,” he said.

“As a so­ci­ety have we re­ally pre­pared our­selves for all that much bad news com­ing through the door con­tin­u­ously, and then we lose where our point of rea­son is. What’s our touch­stone? Is it the sta­tis­tics, is it the so­cial me­dia sto­ries or the com­men­tary down the road in the pub?”

He wants to see the pub­lic make in­formed de­ci­sions from ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion and mes­sag­ing straight from po­lice and not what has been posted on so­cial me­dia.

Pic­ture: KATRINA BRIDGEFORD

Jamie Chalker, the North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s new Po­lice Com­mis­sioner

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