Macedon Ranges residents will be better connected to local police through a new state-wide Neighbourhood Policing model.
For Gisborne-based Senior Sergeant Amanda Cohen, the grassroots model means better community engagement, shared intelligence and earlier resolutions.
“It’s so important for us to engage directly with the community in regional areas. The more we engage, the more we learn and understand new ways we can step in and assist,” she told the Express.
The initiative sees any issues raised recorded in a ‘community issues register’ with officers tasked to specifically address concerns and report back to residents on what’s been done.
The model launched on April 1 and in the Macedon Ranges it has already seen establishment of a liquor licence accord and re-engagement with the Local Safety Committee.
“The liquor licence accord has allowed Macedon Ranges licensees, from drive-through bottle shops to sporting clubs, to share information and find solutions to shared issues,” Snr Sgt Cohen said.
“We have a number of local licensee holders and they have recognised that it has been a very powerful tool.”
The Local Safety Committee was put on pause at the beginning of the pandemic but is now being reactivated as a way for different groups in the community to be heard on local issues.
“It’s a police-driven initiative but it is about having a platform to raise all kinds of safety concerns in the community – whether they need to be flagged with police or another organisation like local council,” Snr Sgt Cohen said.
She said the committee had resulted in many positive outcomes including investigation of traffic concerns, youth leadership programs and promotion of healthy masculinity.
Another initiative, ‘Coffee with a Cop’, has allowed residents to meet with their local police members in a casual setting to raise any concerns they may have.
The model has also seen collaboration with organisations like Rotary and the Macedon Ranges Suicide Prevention Action Group.
Victoria Police is also embarking on a major effort to hear what Victorians want from police through a community sentiment survey specific to local government areas.
The survey will gauge how safe people feel, their ideas to improve safety, how they want to engage with police and how comfortable they feel approaching police and protective services officers.
“There are so many opportunities for us to have a role in making the community safe,” Snr Sgt Cohen said.
“I want to hear from the community on safety and their concerns, and how we can better engage.”
The community sentiment survey is now live at: engage.vic.gov.au/annual-vicpol-community-sentiment-survey-2022