It was an anticlimax in the best possible sense.
Nanjing Night Net

After an anxious build-up to the first security patrol in the Gordon Estate on Saturday night, the shift was “pretty quiet by normal standards”.

Peter Gibbs, manager of the Aboriginal Employment Strategy, which runs the patrol, wasn’t complaining.

“I was on the line all night in case anything major happened – houses burning or whatever,” he said.

“But I didn’t get a phone call.”

He said it came as a relief after the proposal for the patrol was thrown up two weeks ago as a last-ditch measure to curb escalating crime and disorder in the troubled estate.

“Until you try something like this you don’t know what’s going to happen and how people will respond – and that’s the fear.

“But the point is that there’s no harm in trying it,” he said.

At the community crisis meeting where the proposal was initially discussed, it received in-principle support from the south-western division Department of Housing general manager Ken Bone.

On Friday, it was given the official go-ahead at a high-level State Government meeting in Dubbo.

Mr Gibbs said the group had faith that to start with, at least, the patrols would go off without a hitch and Saturday night’s subdued 10pm to 6am shift could only be seen as a good omen.

“All that could be said was that it was successful,” he said.

“There was the normal stuff going on – people walking around and that kind of thing – but nothing major, so that’s a good start.

“We anticipated that in the first week or so it would be pretty good.

“We’re just hoping that the novelty doesn’t wear off.”

The move to introduce the patrol was welcomed by many members of the community, including Gordon Centre manager Terry Doolan.

“This measure is being taken to restore law and order to the area, which is something we all want,” he said.

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“But it won’t be a vigilante group hunting people down.

“These are highly trained officers who work within the law, not outside it.”

Mr Doolan said a similar night patrol program trialled in May last year proved effective in reducing the amount of crime in the area.

“Unfortunately it was only funded for a month,” he said.

“But during that period there was a dramatic decrease in crime.

The security team’s founder, Dick Estens, expressed a qualified confidence in the move, but emphasised its expedience.

He said he feared the patrols could have unwelcome consequences for the officers – such as being ostracised by the community.

“I understand the community’s desire to live in peace but I’m concerned our officers might be the ones paying for it,” he said.

“Sending the security team in is only a band-aid solution, we’ve really got to address what’s missing in these young people’s lives.”

Mr Bone agreed, saying his only reservation was the time-frame for the patrols.

“I believe it will be effective in the short term, however it is not good policy to have a community continually dependent on external support.”

Mr Gibbs conceded it would be an interim measure, which would hopefully lead to long-solutions.

“Nothing might happen after this but we’re giving it a go and we’ll see what happens.”

“But it won’t be a vigilante group hunting people down.

“These are highly trained officers who work within the law, not outside it.”

Mr Doolan said a similar night patrol program trialled in May last year proved effective in reducing the amount of crime in the area: “Unfortunately it was only funded for a month. But during that period there was a dramatic decrease in crime.”

The security team’s founder, Dick Estens, expressed a qualified confidence in the move, but emphasised its expedience.

He said he feared the patrols could have unwelcome consequences for the officers – such as being ostracised by the community.

“I understand the community’s desire to live in peace but I’m concerned our officers might be the ones paying for it,” he said. “Sending the security team in is only a band-aid solution, we’ve really got to address what’s missing in these young people’s lives.”

Mr Bone agreed, saying his only reservation was the time-frame for the patrols: “I believe it will be effective in the short term, however it is not good policy to have a community continually dependent on external support.”

Mr Gibbs conceded it would be an interim measure, which would hopefully lead to long-term solutions: “Nothing might happen after this but we’re giving it a go and we’ll see what happens.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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