NSW deputy police commissioner Gary Worboys hopes to have the re-engineering of the state’s force in place by the end of 2017, but says he won’t be afraid to push the date back if need be.
Insisting that it is better to get the overhaul of regional policing right rather than do it swiftly, Mr Worboys said if viable alternatives to the structure he is currently working towards arise, he will perform due diligence.
Speaking at the launch of Rural Crime Week, he said he has been heartened by the support he has received from the officers and non-sworn staff he has spoken to.
“It’s important to get it right,” he said.
“When we look back in history, I think the Local Area Command model is about 18 years old and it is so important that we consult local police who know best for the policing of their local communities, we consult local government and indeed all the people in those areas and make sure we actually get it right.
“One thing that is coming through strongly is that people want to know who their local police are, they want to know who’s in charge of their police station no matter how big or small and the officer in charge model is a way to do this.”
Rumours have been swirling for months about the potential mergers of local area commands, including one between Cabonne (Orange) and Lachlan (Parkes) and Orana and Mudgee.
In its simplest form, the officer in charge model means that any merged LACs would have a superintendent overseeing the entire area, with each station to have a designated officer running day-to-day operations in their local towns.
“I am going to give accountability and responsibility to an officer in each of the police stations, no matter how big or small, and say ‘you are the now the officer in charge of policing in this particular town or city’,” Mr Worboys said.
“But what we want to do is have those people bring the voice of their communities into the tasking and deployment of police and I think that is really important. So no matter how big or small your problem is you can come to the officer in charge, or raise it with them, get appropriate resourcing and fix the problem.
“It is about providing a more strategic response, so while there is a district office there will still be officers in charge in places like Mudgee and Coonabarabran.
“There will be no closures of stations, and if you have a 24/7 station now you will still have it tomorrow, next month and next year.”