IMMINENT CLOSURE: The Sawtell Police Station will remain un-manned into the foreseeable future due to local staff shortages.
IMMINENT CLOSURE: The Sawtell Police Station will remain un-manned into the foreseeable future due to local staff shortages. Bruce Thomas

Police station to be unmanned

THE critical staff shortages within the Coffs Clarence Local Area Command has forced the virtual shutting down of the Sawtell Police Station.

With so many officers on long term sick and stress leave the decision has been made to reallocate resources and close the front doors of the Sawtell station.

It will effectively be unmanned for the foreseeable future.

Coffs Clarence Local Command Area Commander Superintendent Mark Holahan said until sufficient officers had returned from sick leave the situation at the Sawtell Station will not change.

”But it is very mischievous and ill-informed for anyone to suggest I am going to close the Sawtell Station or that I am telling criminals they will have an easy time in Sawtell,” Superintendent Holahan said.

“There may not be an officer at the front desk, but the community should know the level of policing will be the same.”

“Policing has changed dramatically over the past few years. We have invested tens of thousands of dollars into installing mobile data terminals in our cars so police can stay in the field where they are needed.”

Supt Holahan said Sawtell residents should not feel vulnerable because of the staffing issues, and nor should some feel they have a better chance of getting away with criminal activity.

”I have made the decision to best use my available resources by putting police out on patrol in areas where they are needed.”

“Because of structural issues with the gun room the five officers assigned to Sawtell already sign-on and clock-off from Coffs Harbour and all charging and processing is done at Coffs Harbour,” he said.

“The eagle phone will remain in place at Sawtell for people who want to contact an officer.”

For the first time Superintendent Holahan has hinted at some of the difficulties being experienced within his command due to the high numbers of officers being on long term sick leave

“It is easy to be a commander when things are good but when you’re going through tough times you need to do what is needed in the community,” he said.

“I fully understand the importance of maintaining stations in communities. It is not my intention at this stage to close or sell the Sawtell Station.”



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