Being a police officer, in particular a fresh recruit, in a town known as the epicentre for cannabis reform in Australia, was like being thrown into the deep end.
But the instances of street violence and drug-fuelled conflict have significantly subsided from Insp Dempsey’s initial policing days and this, he believes, is in part due to a stronger relationship between the police and community agencies.
“There was a lot more violence out there then. The street drug problem, it’s always there, but there are a lot more supportive community members these days,” he said.
“(Now) there is more consultation with the different services, it’s not just a law-and-order issue.
“In the past the health service was doing its thing, the police were doing their thing and the youth service was doing its thing. We needed a coming together of the different organisations.
“We are trying to get different areas of the community to provide a service.
“Obviously we gain more trust from the different organisations, and we understand each other.”
At the Nimbin police station, give or take a few officers due to sick or stress leave, the working officers are doing “a good job with the community and providing a high visibility on the street”, Insp Dempsey said..
“We are getting on top of problems before they are created.(People) are being referred earlier,” he said.
While the relationship between police and agencies has strengthened, there is still some angst in the community.
When The Northern Star took to the streets of Nimbin to ask locals what the relationship between the police and the community was like, many were dissatisfied.
Some conceded while local police were making an effort to get involved in the community, a majority said cannabis was always going to be prevalent in the town.
Nimbin police sergeant Mark Puglisi spoke of the challenges of being a police officer in the town and feeling like you were hitting your head against a brick wall.
Sgt Puglisi said a lot of the time
it was the drug sellers from out of town who come to Nimbin to use the town as their substance-selling stamping ground.
“There are two sides to the community. Some people are always going to dislike us because they sell cannabis and that is their life,” Sgt Puglisi said.
He said while he can have an open and friendly chat with members of the HEMP Embassy, he is not always well received in the village’s main strip.
via : The Northern Star
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