NT Police will start implementing a major restructure from the end of February. (Supplied: NT Police)
The Northern Territory Police Commissioner says he wants to see better relations between Aboriginal communities and the police force and has laid out a plan for all new recruits to spend at least two years in a remote area.
- All NT Police recruits will be required to work two years in a remote community
- A new Assistant Commissioner for People and Cultural Reform will be introduced
- The NT Police Commissioner hopes to improve relationships with remote communities, through more permanent postings
Commissioner Jamie Chalker, who spent half of his policing career in remote stations, said having officers fly in and fly out of communities was hard on residents.
“My experience is those communities tend to adopt you if they find that you’ve treated them fairly [and] you’ve taken an active interest in the community and community life,” Commissioner Chalker said.
“It’s not my preference to send people out to do a job that they don’t necessarily want to do, but if you intend on joining the Northern Territory Police Force, then you need to be very clear that you are joining the Northern Territory Police Force, you’re not joining the Darwin Police Force.”
The changes, while not related, come three months after a young man in the remote community of Yuendumu was allegedly shot by a police officer, sparking calls for police officers to be removed from some Aboriginal communities.
Northern Territory Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker spent half of his policing career in remote stations. (ABC: Hamish Harty)
“There have been other jurisdictions that have faced similar tragedies where relationships have been completely and utterly broken, we’re not experiencing that,” said Commissioner Chalker.
“I think the maturity that has been demonstrated, particularly from Yuendumu, is demonstrable of the fact that there has been a long legacy of really great police officers.
“That incident is an incident that will face its regular tests, but we’re here to help.”
Commissioner Chalker also said he will expect experienced officers who have not served in remote communities to do so, or face restrictions when it comes to promotions and transfers.
Police officers in Alice Springs and other town centres will now help fill leave vacancies in remote communities. (ABC: Hamish Harty)
It is not clear whether the new rules will result in an overall increase in the number of police officers in remote communities, as some of the nearly 50 remote stations in the Northern Territory struggle to remain permanently staffed.
“Funding’s been really static in that regard at the moment, but the truth of it is, we are seeing increasing costs in our overtime because of the demands that come through, so that’s something I’m continuing to work [on] with government,” said Commissioner Chalker.
The “Territory Relief Pool”, a pool of Darwin-based officers who fly-in and fly-out of remote communities to fill in for those on leave, will also be dismantled.
Relief shifts at remote stations will now be covered by officers from all major centres.
NT Police restructure
The announcement comes as a major restructure to the Northern Territory Police Force is introduced, with a 10-year strategy unveiled to focus on frontline policing.
Management roles will be structured to include a new Assistant Police Commissioner for People and Cultural reform, focussing on the people within the police force and their behaviour.
It is not clear whether the new rules will result in an overall increase in the number of police officers in remote communities. (ABC News: James Dunlevie)
“That goes from our recruits … through our professional standards command so that we’re making sure that people are acting appropriately and that we can deal with those things,” Commissioner Chalker said.
“If we’re starting to pick up trends where our officers may not necessarily be doing things that meet the expectation, we’re then ensuring that our training regime picks that up to ensure those types of behaviours are mitigated.”
Changes will also include the Alcohol Policing Unit being absorbed into the general duties division, while Road Policing is incorporated into Southern, Northern and Darwin Commands.
“There’s greater clarity now that I have two deputy commissioners, each of those two deputies have two assistant commissioners and then each of those assistant commissioners have commanders who report for them,” said Commissioner Chalker.
The changes will be rolled out from the end of February, as part of the NT Police Force’s 10-year plan.