UNCERTAINTY surrounding Bunbury and the South West’s police force has been stamped out with a promise from South West Police Superintendent Lawrence Panaia.
Police vacancies across the region were brought into the spotlight again when South West MLC Adele Farina claimed there were at least 15 positions vacant on Friday.
The Shire of Capel and its residents have cried out for a police station for more than a year, spurred by fears that the town was being targeted because it was not adequately protected.
But Superintendent Panaia told the Bunbury Mail the positions should be filled by Christmas.
The promise comes after a Bunbury man, who did not want to be named for safety reasons, approached the Mail to say local police had failed him.
The man said he called police after he was allegedly threatened by 10 young people at The Cut last month.
He called the police and was told there was only two vehicles on the road which were both attending domestic violence calls and could not attend.
When he made a statement at the Bunbury station, a police officer urged him to push the issue of the lack of police as far as he could.
Ms Farina slammed the shortages as unacceptable and unsafe.
“I have learned that Bunbury police have ten vacancies, Australind three and Collie has two vacancies,” Ms Farina said.
Ms Farina said a married officer in Bunbury or Australind received no allowance or free accommodation while the same officer stationed in South Hedland got $32,000 a year locality allowance plus free accommodation.
Minister for Police Liza Harvey said she does not consider the number as unacceptably high but would consider the shortages and raise it with the Police Commissioner.
Superintendent Panaia said South West police are adequately resour-ced to cover any shortages.
“Shortages are fairly normal in the sense that a mid-year move is harder for people,” he said.
“If you are an officer with a family, you prefer to move at the end of the year so you do not pull the kids out of school.”
Superintendent Panaia said modern policing meant shortages did not mean public safety was at risk.
“The days of random patrolling is over and it now about a targeted approach, the members of the community may not see us but it doesn’t mean we are not there.”