Eden police officers had the opportunity to speak with the state’s top cop, with NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione visiting the local station last Thursday.
Stopping in the town for the first time in his tenure, the Commissioner praised officers for their work as part of Strike Force Oceanic, during which Far South Coast officers seized nearly $15 million of illicit drugs and made 12 arrests last month.
Scipione also pointed to the region’s low road toll as a positive result, and said it was refreshing to hear from his troops.
“It’s been really encouraging for me to hear their passion, their commitment and their ongoing understanding of just how important their role is in the community,” he said.
“Morale is really good and we’ve found that everywhere we’ve gone, and we’ve been everywhere from Cootamundra to Wagga to Griffith to Cooma to Tumut.
“We’re here to meet with the police, but we’re also here to interact with the community.
“It’s very important that people understand that the police are there for them, including me.”
Scipione last visited Eden around 10 years ago, during his time as Deputy Commissioner.
He said that while finding time to travel to regional commands often proves difficult, the cost of not finding the time would be far greater.
“People say it’s a big price to pay, but my view is that you shouldn’t ask what it costs you to do this, ask what it costs you not to do it,” he said.
“There’s an old saying in leadership, and that’s that you should care for the ones that care for you, and that’s part of being out here.
“Apart from one or two, they’re all new faces, so it’s good to get down and meet them where they do the job I ask them to do.”
The Commissioner also discussed the rollout of an intensive mental health intervention training course for officers, which would involve specialist training for all police on the beat.
Currently, each Local Area Command is required to have one Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT) trained officer, while new recruits undergo vulnerable persons training.
“We realised that there needed to be something in the middle, so we have now started to roll out the one-day MHIT training program,” Scipione said.
“That’s started as recently as last Monday, and that’s been rolled out to 13,500 [officers].
“It is a very important issue, and we talked about some of the mental health issues that we’re dealing with down here in this area.
“That’s only going to grow, so we’ve lifted the level of investment in our people in that regard so that they know what to do and they’re better equipped to deal with it.”