HALLS Gap Police Station is now fully staffed, with two senior officers having settled in well to their new roles.
The station is staffed by Sergeant Scott Olsen and Senior Constable Kellie Harris. Sgt Olsen arrives in Halls Gap following a stint at Mildura, while S/C Harris has been based at Stawell and has been filling in for some time at Halls Gap.
Sgt Olsen said he looked forward to the challenge of working in a small community once again, after having spent several years at Cavendish on the other side of the Grampians.
“I see this as a real positive for the community of Halls Gap, having the police station fully staffed,” Sgt Olsen said.
“Previously, there was a commitment by local command to man the station on an as needs basis, but we are thrilled that the two vacant positions have now been filled.”
The officers will be conducting regular patrols and carrying out traffic duties and foot patrols and will be heavily involved in any search and rescue operations as well as natural disasters.
Sgt Olsen said there would be a great emphasis on traffic control within the township and throughout the Grampians.
“This will definitely involve a zero tolerance approach to drink driving,” he said.
Sgt Olsen said he and S/C Harris would also work closely with the community and get to know all the residents.
“We will certainly have an open door policy, that’s for sure,” he said.
“People will be welcome to pop in and meet us. Anyone who is interested in catching up can come and see us.
“We will certainly make ourselves known to the business owners in the town and to residents. It is important for us that we become part of the community and feel part of the community in which we live and work.
“It is also important that residents and business owners feel confident that they will get full service from their local police and that we want to be part of their community as well.”
Sgt Olsen said having worked at Cavendish, he understood what it was like living and working in small communities.
“I think it is really important to be a part of the community,” he said.
“I spent 12 years at Cavendish prior to working in Mildura, so I am very familiar with policing in smaller country towns and I understand the relationships that are needed between police and country communities.
“People need to feel confident so they can come forward with any information and also be confident that their local police members will follow it up for them.
“The message is, we rely on the public just as much as the public relies on us. We need that interaction and confidence within the community.”
Sgt Olsen said Halls Gap and the Grampians faced many challenges, ranging from fires and floods, traffic concerns and problems associated with interaction with wildlife.
He said an incident last week involving a lady being knocked over by a kangaroo was evidence of how careful people need to be around the animals.
“Basically, the woman came between the kangaroo and a shopping bag and the kangaroo knocked her over,” he said.
“Kangaroos are a big concern in this region, not so much for locals because they are aware of their presence, but tourists seem to have difficulty understanding that the wildlife are often on our roads, on our main street and in our public reserves.
“Kangaroos have caused so many vehicular accidents in recent times and they are a big concern.
“It’s not just on the roads though. People often think they can stop and feed the kangaroos and they become accustomed to receiving the handouts. When they aren’t getting what they want, an incident such as that which occurred last week can happen quickly.”
Sgt Olsen said both he and S/C Harris were fortunate to arrive at Halls Gap in the winter, without any worries about bushfire.
“We are very much in the planning phase through for both the fire season and the tourist season which are fast approaching.”