A proposal to fly police in and out of Qld communities that have had trouble attracting officers has been criticised by indigenous communities.
Forget fly-in fly-out (FIFO) police officers: an indigenous council in Queensland wants locals on the frontline.
The Queensland Police Service is considering relying on FIFO officers in communities that have struggled to attract police.
The proposal has found some resistance in remote and indigenous communities, who say it would erode trust and community ties already strained by FIFO miners.
Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council, which has a large police population for its 3500 residents, has been on a mission to heal the community since the violent unrest that followed the 2004 death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee.
However, Mayor Alf Lacey wants the number of sworn officers on the island reduced and a community policing model adopted.
The grass roots plan, already underway in the Torres Strait, sees locals trained and employed to deal with minor issues.
“I call on the premier and his cabinet to seriously consider our proposal,” he told AAP.
“I think any community would respond very well to local people at the frontline.
“You’ve got local people taking responsibilities for law and order and it may actually help if they’ve got problems with their budgets and retaining staff.
“It is something that indigenous mayors are talking about across the state.”
More than 500km inland from the island, at Mount Isa, the community is already fighting FIFO miners.
Mayor and former police minister Tony McGrady doesn’t want to see FIFO police officers become the norm in regional communities.
“Part of good policing is knowing who is who at the zoo and knowing who the villains are – to have to have a good intelligence network and have the trust of the community … FIFO workers won’t be able to do that,” he told AAP.
“If you have a different officer every week you can’t have that feeling or that relationship or trust.”
The opposition said FIFO policing should only be considered as a last resort, and the proposal made a mockery of the premier’s ambitions to drive population growth into the regions.
“If there are problems attracting officers to certain posts the government needs to look at added incentives,” opposition police spokesman Bill Byrne said.
The police service says it already offers incentives, including extra pay, for staff who head to western and northern communities.
It says the FIFO proposal is about trying to solve the problem in a new way.
“The QPS is a large modern organisation that faces the same difficulties as other modern companies concerning attraction and retention of staff,” it said.