ONE of the state’s top cops has been accused of misleading the people of the Coffs Coast.
In the city on Wednesday NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens said the better use of resources rather than additional police was the key to tackling crime on the Coffs Coast.
Yesterday in State Parliament the member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said the Deputy Commissioner had failed to acknowledge the critical under-staffing of the Coffs Clarence Local Area Command.
“Dave Owens misled us. He made a decision to act at the behest of his political masters and not in the interests of this community or his local force,” Mr Fraser said.
“This week’s revelation that the Sawtell Police Station is effectively being mothballed because of a lack of available officers to staff it paints a truer picture of the real problem on a local level,” he said.
Mr Fraser said the Deputy Commissioner was deliberately confusing the number of authorised staff for the command with those that were assigned and those who were available.
“The reality is there are so many police on sick and stress leave, and on maternity, long service and holiday leave that those who are left are being spread very thinly,” Mr Fraser said.
“When the real strength of the local force is tallied the only officers that should be counted should be the ones who are actually available for duty.
“We have a situation where the officer at Coramba is now assigned to Coffs Harbour on the weekends which means that the people of Ulong and Lowanna are serviced from Woolgoolga. That is totally unacceptable.
“To suggest that officers in patrol cars can effectively police Sawtell or even other places like Woolgoolga, Sandy Beach and Toormina is ludicrous.”
Mr Fraser said he called in parliament for more officers to be immediately sent to Coffs Harbour.
He would seem to have the support of at least one officer currently stationed at Coffs Harbour.
He contacted the Coffs Coast Advocate yesterday to claim that our coverage of the virtual closing of the Sawtell Station didn’t go far enough.
“Morale here is very low because we are so under strength,” the officer, who didn’t want to be named, said.
“It is an absolute joke to suggest we can do our jobs from cars. We need to have police at counters and in smaller communities,” he said.