Fears for police safety amid staff shortage
AN ALLEGED attack on a female police officer at Tweed Heads over the weekend has shaken her colleagues while strengthening their resolve to continue industrial action in a bid to get more resources in the region.
The Tweed/Byron Local Area Command is already stretched to its limits, with assaults on police adding to the load, an officer said on Monday.
The officer said such incidents were an "inherent danger of policing”, but he said these could leave the understaffed command exposed.
Police claim Saturday's incident could have been worse for the officer and her partner if backup had not arrived from across the border.
While the female officer was not seriously injured, three men have been charged in relation to the brawl.
The officer said Queensland police had increased their numbers in Coolangatta for an event that day and were able to assist, but when people lash out in areas that are far from help, police face a compounded threat.
"That's very much in the minds of the officers here,” he said.
"We know there's a level of danger in policing but... there have been times when backup is a considerable time away.
"They feel vulnerable. They want to keep the community safe and provide a quality service but they also want to go home to their families.”
He said increased police numbers across the command would make officers safer undertaking their duties, especially when a job goes pear-shaped.
He said simple, apparently harmless jobs were often those that ended in tragedy, and believed more resources across the command would help to mitigate that risk.
He said the pressure his command was under overshadowed the passion and motivation behind most officers' choice of career.
"Most of us join the cops to do the right thing by the community,” he said.
"We want to keep people safe.
"Most of us live in the community where we work and we want to keep it safe.”
Tweed/Byron LAC Superintendent Wayne Starling said he had "complete confidence the NSW Police Commissioner (Mick Fuller) will make the right decision for the future of staffing in Tweed/Byron”.
Supt Starling has delayed the community open day at the new Tweed Heads police headquarters until February next year, citing the busy summer months ahead for the decision.