Police Minister Troy Grant has moved to hose down concern over a slated amalgamation between Cootamundra and Wagga Local Area Commands.
The issue has become a political football ahead of the by-election with various candidates weighing in on the subject.
In a statement issued to the Cootamundra Herald this week, Mr Grant said the intention of the re-engineering of the NSW Police Force is to ensure the force is best placed to protect the community into the future.
“It is entirely false to suggest that police services will be reduced in any way as a result of the re-engineering,” Mr Grant said.
He also reiterated that communities across the state, as well as local police, will be consulted on any potential changes as the re-engineering continues.
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller is behind the re-engineering.
The commissioner was in Wagga on Wednesday, together with Mr Grant to announce the state’s first ‘Regional Enforcement Squad’.
Staffed by new positions re-directed from Sydney, six additional positions for Wagga have been created, along with more than $100,000 worth of covert equipment to ensure the regional centre can fight mid-level crime.
The squad will target drugs and drug dealers not only responding to crime, but cutting off the head of the snake, according to Mr Fuller.
During this announcement, the commissioner admitted the present Local Area Command model is 20 years old and is based on a Sydney format which does not suit regional NSW.
It comes as the Public Service Association (PSA) calls on Mr Grant to reveal details of the re-structure; details his office told the Herald are not yet finalised.
Claims 11 regional Local Area Commands will be merged into just seven have caused concerns in Cootamundra, where a controversial Local Government amalgamation has only recently been completed.
PSA General Secretary, Troy Wright noted that every job in a regional area feeds into six others from the local supermarket to car dealer.
“It’s the ripple effect of economics,” Mr Wright said.
Mr Grant countered the process of re-engineering is designed to place more frontline officers where they are needed most.
“It is in no way about cutting officer numbers,” Mr Grant said.