Coffee with the coppers

By Cobram Courier

Barooga residents had the chance to meet local police and voice concerns or ask questions over a coffee at Fee’s Coffee House on Thursday.

Murray River Police District western sectors’ Inspector Paul Huggett said the morning was brilliant and gave local officers a valuable chance to engage with community members in a relaxed environment.

‘‘There were about 35 people in attendance and the main concerns or issues raised were the usual things we often hear about like speeding when coming over the Cobram-Barooga bridge and petty theft incidents,’’ Insp Huggett said.

‘‘Like most small rural towns, the Barooga station isn’t manned 24 hours a day, so a lot of the morning was spent educating people on ways they can contact police without going to the station.’’

Insp Huggett believes close to 90 per cent of crime in a town like Barooga can be avoided by people being more diligent and locking car doors and back doors of houses.

‘‘Sometimes it is just a complacency thing and I see it in all the nine towns I cover,’’ he said.

‘‘The coffee morning was really just about encouraging residents to take ownership of its crime and these community engagement sessions are crucial in establishing trust between the public and police.

‘‘It can be hard to tell a policeman or woman information if you don’t know them.

‘‘To some, they are just a person in a blue uniform, but it is crucial we start to build relationships that go beyond that.

‘‘I encourage people to go down to your local station and introduce yourself or ask us if we want to come down to your sporting club or service club to do a talk — because that is how we will form stronger relationships with members of the public.’’