Protest: Rhys Herzig signs Tahlia’s petition in First Avenue.
Protest: Rhys Herzig signs Tahlia’s petition in First Avenue. Bruce Thomas

1260 sign police station petition

KIARA Greenway is one satisfied, but shocked, 15-year-old.

Less than a fortnight after launching a petition calling for a review of the decision to temporarily shut the Sawtell Police Station, the Toormina High School student has been overwhelmed with the response from the community.

“All up 22 businesses in Sawtell and Toormina allowed me to display the petition and so far I’ve collected 1260 signatures,” Kiara said.

“I don’t think there has been one person I approached who hasn’t been happy to sign the petition.”

Kiara was motivated to launch her petition last month when the Advocate revealed that due to staffing shortages the Commander of the Coffs Clarence Local Area Command, Superintendent Mark Holahan, had signalled he would temporarily close the Sawtell Police Station and reassign its officers to Coffs Harbour.

As well as demanding the reopening of the Sawtell Station Kiara’s petition calls for more police officers to be assigned to the Coffs/Clarence Area Command.

The petition has clearly struck a chord with the Sawtell Toormina community but what has upset the teenager has been the stories told by some of those who have given her campaign wholehearted support.

“People have told me about two large late night brawls in Sawtell in the past two weeks.

“One woman told me that when she found someone had broken into her house and stolen goods worth more than $30,000 it took police five hours to respond.

“Basically people have been saying that the decision to shut the station is like an invitation to criminals and troublemakers to do what they want in the area because it will take so long for police to get here from Coffs.”

But Superintendent Holahan said latest statistics indicated the level of crime in Sawtell was actually down over the past month.

“The station at Sawtell is still operating as usual,” Supt Holahan said.

“I won’t reveal when it will be closed but people can’t expect an officer to be at the desk or manning the phone all day. That does not mean, however, that we are not actively policing in the area.”

“As to the allegation from the woman about waiting five hours for a police response, I can only assure her if she contacts the Coffs Harbour station and lodges a complaint it will be investigated.”

People wanting to sign the petition only have today and tomorrow to do so.

Kiara will deliver it to the Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, on Friday afternoon.

He will then take it to Macquarie Street and present them to the Premier and the Minister for Police later this month.

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