In remote Northern Territory communities, Community Engagement Police Officers provide a vital link in the process of building close relationships between locals and the Police.
First Class Constable Shane Blanchard work throughout the Northern Territory, building relationships with communities to successfully support crime prevention. Shane, who covers the communities of Kintore, Papunya, Haasts Bluff, Yuendumu, Yuelamu and Mount Liebig in central Australia, says that Community Engagement Officers are different to other police officers as they spend more time based in communities and build close relationships with locals.
“This closeness enables you to positively engage with the community,” Shane said.
“It allows you to better discuss issues with community members and resolve them before they arise, as well as being an intermediary between other police and the community.”
Shane has been a CEPO since early 2014 and believes that while initially communities were wary of him, he has seen locals warm to him.
“The attitude towards me has come forward in leaps and bounds,” Shane said.
“The communities are so open, always smiling and waving and people eager to talk to me about issues, whereas two years ago they were waiting to see if I was trustworthy.
“Communities are more willing to come to police for help or talk to us about reporting issues and the kids absolutely love having us around.”
Shane works closely with local Community Safety Committees to ensure the Community Safety Action Plans they develop are followed and community concerns are addressed.
He now wants to see the relationships that have been built between community members and police grow stronger.
“It is encouraging to see more community members taking an active role, and working closely with Government and Non-Government Organisations to achieve better outcomes,” Shane said.
“Our relationship will improve even more as individuals in communities understand that things will only work if we all work together; a whole of community approach to solving issues.”