'Unprecedented' boost for police
THE THIN blue line on the North Coast has got a whole lot stronger with 33 police recruits hitting the beat in the Richmond and Tweed-Byron local area commands.
Twenty new probationary constables have been assigned to the Tweed-Byron command, with Richmond getting an additional 13 recruits.
The new recruits are part of Class 314 from the NSW Police Force Academy in Goulburn, which included 360 male and 149 female recruits.
Richmond LAC commander, Superintendent Greg Martin, said the new recruits would be "a real asset" in efforts to fight crime on the North Coast.
"It's unprecedented. This is the most probationary constables this local area command has ever got in the one group.
"We have an authorised strength of 197 staff, so it's a big percentage of our staff," Supt Martin said.
Residents of Casino have campaigned for more police and calls for an increase to police numbers dominated the recent Clarence by-election.
Supt Martin said he was ecstatic when he heard police numbers would be boosted in the region. The recruits would be divided between Ballina, Lismore and Casino, he said.
"The Northern Region got the bulk of this class which we have been calling for some time and I have to thank the executive for releasing this many staff," he said.
Probationary Constable Rebecca Collins, 32, said she was pleased to move to the North Coast after growing up in Coogee in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
"I think it's going to be challenging in a good way because it's a massive area we cover and we will need to get to know the different incidents," she said.
The new recruits will complete a year of on-the-job training and study before being confirmed in the rank of constable.
At Tweed Heads, an orientation day provided many of the new recruits with their first chance to become acquainted with the police station.
The 20 recruits take total police numbers in the command to 172 officers.
Command Superintendent Stuart Wilkins said this was a significant boost for an area that was running at about 80% of its operational strength.
"We have certainly been reduced in our capacity because of sick leave," Supt Wilkins said.
"It's the first time we have had so many come into the local area command."
Probationary Constable Danielle Nealon, from Wollongong, spent eight months trialling at the NSW Police Academy in Goulburn before being posted to Tweed.
"I was looking to start a career in something I could be proud of and help the community," she said.
"I did choose the Tweed because I wanted to be near the water still."
Supt Wilkins said postings to the area were highly sought after.
"When I asked who chose to come here most of them put up their hands," he said.