Vegie garden helps cops flourish

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Sergeant Chris Martin, First Class Constable Jake Hendry, Senior Constable Stephen Vevers, Customer Service Officer Maggie Glass and First Class Constable Michael Mangano in front of Mullewa Police Station.
Camera IconSergeant Chris Martin, First Class Constable Jake Hendry, Senior Constable Stephen Vevers, Customer Service Officer Maggie Glass and First Class Constable Michael Mangano in front of Mullewa Police Station. Credit: Tamra Carr, The Geraldton Guardian

Mullewa Sergeant Chris Martin has not forgotten a conversation he had with residents he arrested for burglary last year.

He asked offenders why they had chosen to steal, and was told “to get money, to get food”.

This year, he and his team at Mullewa Police Station are building residents a vegetable garden to make sure people are not going hungry.

Sgt Martin suspects initiatives such as the vegie patch helped earn Mullewa police an Australia Day community award, but he cannot say for certain.

He does not know who nominated him.

“It’s a bit of a mystery,” Sgt. Martin said. “I actually found out we were nominated by reading the paper, which came as a bit of a surprise.”

Last year, police recorded significant dips in crime by encouraging resident involvement in garden building, sport programs and a senior citizens’ panel.

The community engagement projects are police strategies for making Mullewa a safer and healthier place to live.

Sgt. Martin said officers had a vested interest in offenders and other residents because even when out of uniform, they always saw people they know.

“I’d challenge you to find any-one in Mullewa who doesn’t know all of our officers by name,” he said.

“When we’re not wearing this uniform, we’re members of the community ourselves, our families are here.” Senior Constable Stephen Vevers, who came to Mullewa from Carnarvon last October, agreed.

“Because it’s such a small community, you can’t just go home and be in your own world,” he said.

“You’re always bumping into people you know when you go to fill up your car, or get breakfast.

“It’s a lot more difficult to switch off than if you’re policing in a big city.”

Mullewa police will finalise plans to establish a vegetable garden this month.

They also hope to have selected their community “elders” — a hand-picked crew of model citizens — by April.

Other Australia Day award recipients from Mullewa included Kevin Weir and Clem Keeffe.

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