Cuts to local police numbers “will not happen” as a result of a “re-engineering study” being conducted by police, National Party Candidate for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has said.
Ms Cooke was responding to what she called a “desperate fear campaign” from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party over a joint study into a redrawing of boundaries for police local area commands.
“This is a joint re-engineering study that is being conducted by the police hierarchy and the police union,“ she said.
“I am strong on this; no changes will be implemented without those two parties jointly agreeing on the outcome.
“I would not allow a redrawing of boundaries for local area commands without a guarantee of more police and that is exactly what people would expect from the government.”
Ms Cooke said the police association would only agree to what is in the best interests of the men and women that they represent.
“I stand with them, so I will support whatever our men and women in the force really need,” she said.
But the Shooters Cootamundra candidate Matthew Stadtmiller said the government is setting out to forcibly amalgamate the Cootamundra LAC with the Wagga LAC.
“We cannot keep expecting rural services to do more with less,” he said.
“Unlike city-based LACs, in the bush, our police often span hundreds of kilometres of service area, and they don’t have the support of another one down the road like their city-based counterparts.”
However, Ms Cooke said the Shooters are scaremongering when they say cuts will be made to police numbers.
“They are using language like forced amalgamations of LACs, the only thing they know how to do well is to spread fear in communities and in this case to police,” she said.
“I find that abhorrent that they would take an issue like this re-engineering study, which is still in its infancy and seek to scare people into thinking there will be police cuts. There have been no official announcements, the study is still being undertaken, and they are using this to whip up fear, and it is wrong.
“It would be entirely wrong to suggest that an outcome of this study would be reduced police numbers, that will not happen.”
The ‘re-engineering’ of the NSW Police Force was initiated with the appointment of Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys in May this year.
Mr Worboys, who is now based in Dubbo, confirmed at the time that ‘new enforcement squads will be deployed to police regional areas’ and they will ‘work out of hubs’.
“The enforcement squads are really around prevention and disruption which then will hopefully decrease the workload for the uniformed police and the other police,” he said at the time.
“I think that is the important thing that if you keep putting resources into crime, then you never win the battle and the regional enforcement squads are key, they're central to preventing and disrupting crime.”
NSW Police Minister, Troy Grant, explained, “it is entirely false to suggest that police services will be diminished in any way as a result of the re-engineering.”