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Tweed youth get cop-panion

Constable Mark Harrison at Tweed Police station.
Constable Mark Harrison at Tweed Police station. John Gass

YOUNG people on the Tweed have a new friend in the force.

Constable Mark Harrison has come on board as a Tweed Byron youth liaison officer.

His job is to bridge the gap between young people and the police, and he has 23 years of experience as a youth worker and youth pastor to guide him.

"The job was made for me," Const Harrison said.

"Kids make mistakes and they need someone on their side.

"If they come to the police station and ask to speak to a youth liaison officer they can get good advice and don't have to be fearful."

Const Harrison moved to the Tweed at the start of the year after serving in Blacktown for three years on general duties and a further two years as a youth liaison officer.

He issues lots of cautions, attends youth conferences, speaks in schools and "hangs out" with local kids.

"I chose to apply here as soon as the job came up," Const Harrison said.

"I don't think it gets much better than this."

He likens kids to Rubik's cubes.

"When they're young all the colours line up, but if they go too far they get all the colours messed up," he said.

"Sometimes they need help to get all the colours back aligned, or at least one side of the cube.

"By issuing cautions and giving them help through young offenders programs we can prevent them from being given a criminal record.

"The majority of them have just made a wrong decision or had a bad experience with the police."

Recently Const Harrison spent time fire twirling as part of a Cool Heads initiative.

The Cool Heads group travel the Tweed in a bus hosting free activities for young people.

"If they see the cops hanging out with them it breaks down the barrier," he said.

"It makes the uniform less scary and lets me build a rapport with the kids."

National Youth Week kicks off tomorrow.

A skateboard, bike and scooter competition will be held in Knox Park, Murwillumbah on Saturday.

Registration starts at 11am.

Visit youthweek.com for more events across the state.

Topics:  crime, police, youth



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