Police on lookout for ‘elders’

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Senior Constable Stephen Vevers with Sergeant Chris Martin. The men are two of six officers at Mullewa Police Station.
Camera IconSenior Constable Stephen Vevers with Sergeant Chris Martin. The men are two of six officers at Mullewa Police Station. Credit: Picture: Tamra Carr, Tamra Carr, The Geraldton Guardian

Crime has dropped by about 60 per cent in Mullewa since the start of 2017 and police are looking to continue the downward trend in offending this year by putting a spotlight on good behaviour.

Sergeant Chris Martin said law enforcement officers were on the hunt for community “elders” — a group of law-abiding people highly involved in the community and respected by other residents.

Though elders are traditionally thought to be indigenous senior citizens, the sergeant said the title would be open to people of any age in Mullewa leadership positions.

Residents will be picked by police and will receive a letter asking for their participation in the initiative.

If they agree, the “elders” will become official police-supported role models in Mullewa and will be tasked with demonstrating consistently good behaviour to help quash antisocial activity.

Sgt Martin said the new moves were being made to further the crime reduction caused by the 2017 community garden, which was built by residents in front of Mullewa Police Station between March and September.

The garden features an outdoor cinema and a NAIDOC-inspired firepit and serves as a community meeting place.

Sgt Martin said trust between residents and authorities had bloomed as a result.

“There was a time when some residents would only interact with police if they were in trouble or a family member was in trouble,” he said.

“This is a way to create more positive interactions.”

Sgt Martin said police efforts were helped along by the fact Mullewa was dwindling in population size, meaning the community was becoming more tightly knit, familiar with each other and not accepting of bad behaviour.

He said people who committed crimes now faced heightened shame from other residents, further serving as a deterrent against bad behaviour.

Mullewa police plan to have selected their “elders” before April.

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