Smile George...Our boys have got your back

By SAMANTHA HEALY

SO who will be watching over us while our boys in blue are watching out for George Bush?

That is the question a lot of local people are asking today with the revelation 11 highly trained police officers from the Tweed/Byron Local Area Command will be patrolling the streets of Sydney during the massive APEC summit which gets under way this weekend.

The Daily News has been able to confirm that the Tweed/Byron officers, all trained in crowd control, will join thousands of other police officers from across the state for APEC, which runs until next Sunday.

Some are already on the ground in Sydney as part of the looming security lockdown of the CBD. The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation, which promotes free trade and economic co-operation in the region, draws together some of the world's most important and powerful political leaders, including US President Bush, China's Hu Jintao, Japan's Shinzo Abe, Russia's Vladimir Putin and Australian Prime Minister John Howard. To protect them Australia is rolling out a $300 million security operation which will involve about 3500 NSW police, 450 federal police, 1500 Australian Defence Force personnel and officers from ASIO.

The Tweed/Byron officers are involved despite regular calls from local residents, businesses and local police officers for more law enforcers in the region.

Earlier this week the Tweed Heads Police Association was angered after the region missed out on receiving any new officers from the 225 cadets to graduate from the NSW Police Academy.

They have been very vocal about a lack of police manpower and resources on the Tweed in recent months But in spite of the absence of the 11 officers it is understood the Tweed will not be exposed to a higher crime risk than normal, with all police leave in the Tweed/Byron LAC cancelled until after APEC.

It will be business as usual with normal staff levels, the Daily News was told. Concerns about local police numbers raised their head again last weekend during Banana Festival celebrations when youths in Murwillumbah again were out of control, fighting and drinking.

During APEC, police will have unprecedented powers to deal with violent protesters and security threats.

The powers, which came into effect on Thursday, include the right for police to stop and search citizens inside restricted areas.

The NSW Police Security Command was established to develop, co-ordinate and implement all facets of security for APEC which has in the past attracted%various protest groups.

With Mr Bush due in Sydney on Tuesday, along with the other leaders, security will be tight.



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