New top cop has learned from outback experience
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.
Jamie Chalker, the Northern Territory’s new Police Commissioner