Police Voice

September 23, 2023


Police News

Tambo officer reaches out to his rural community

Tambo officer reaches out to his rural community

A police officer leaning on his car talking to a man with a horse on a lead.

A Tambo police officer has hit upon an effective work strategy for connecting with some of his harder-to-reach community members—one that doesn’t involve working at all.

Senior Constable James Webber and his family made the decision to experience life away from the big city three years ago, after his first five years of policing in Upper Mount Gravatt and Coorparoo.

He said finding himself in this friendly community 850km west of Brisbane has been like hitting the jackpot.

“Tambo is a great place. Crime is relatively rare among the residents and the community has a very positive attitude towards police,” Senior Constable Webber said.

“It’s a two-officer station here, and a large proportion of our work here is traffic-related as Tambo is on the main highway from Brisbane to the Northern Territory.

“We also have quite a few big annual events like the Tambo Stock Show, camp draft, rodeo, and horse racing events, and we often work with our neighbouring stations at Augathella and Blackall when the crowds come to town.”

While Tambo Division has a great community spirit, almost half of its 500 or so residents live beyond the little town’s urban footprint.

With such a spread-out community, Senior Constable Webber said getting to meet and interact with many of these rural community members was a challenge.

“There are only a few streets in town, but the division includes approximately a hundred large properties operating as cattle and sheep stations.

“My wife, kids and I have become involved in the community through the school and volunteering to help at community events or with mustering on some of the properties.

“While I’ve had lots of interactions and been able to get to know quite a few graziers, there are still many people on the rural properties surrounding Tambo I haven’t had any contact with.

“They are good people who I’d like to build relationships with, but they fly under the radar.”

A police officer and three children cuddling baby goats.
Senior Constable Webber and his family have embraced their new community, becoming involved in local events and volunteering at properties.

To help meet and build rapport with these community members, Senior Constable Webber has launched an initiative that involves the simple pleasure of stopping work to share a morning tea and a chat.

“I’ve called it ‘smoko with a cop’ because ‘smoko’ refers to the time-honoured tradition of downing tools and taking the time to relax and have a cuppa.

“People work hard out here, and as I’m the one doing the travelling and providing the morning tea, I’m hoping they’ll take up the opportunity to have me around for a bite to eat and a chat.

“There are a large number of properties I’ve never visited, so if it works out that I have one ‘smoko with a cop’ per week, I’ll be busy for at least the next year.”

Establishing good relationships with the community is important in all settings, but even more so in rural and remote environments according to Senior Constable Webber.

“In such a spread-out division, you rely on the whole community to be your eyes and ears.

“Issues such as trespass, poaching and damage to property can be a problem in the area, but we can’t act if we’re not aware of it.

“Many rural community members may be reluctant to report problems, but if they’ve met me first when there are no pressing issues, then they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone when there is.

“We can do a better job of policing when we have good connections and the support of our community. It’s ‘community policing 101’,” he said.

A man on a horse talking to a police officer in a paddock.
Establishing good relationships is important in all settings, but even more so in rural and remote environments.

Property owners within the Tambo police division are encouraged to register their interest in the initiative by contacting Senior Constable Webber at the Tambo Police Station by phone on 4652 5116.

Senior Constable Webber said country policing offered a unique and richly rewarding lifestyle that he hadn’t considered when he initially joined the QPS.

“You can really make a difference and become part of your community. People appreciate it when you help them out; they value the fact that you value them.

“When I worked in Brisbane, I worked under three sergeants who had done regional and remote policing and they all said I’d love it.

“They were right. I wish I’d done it sooner.”

The Queensland Police Service is looking for applicants who seek purpose, direction and meaning from their careers in a different way than they have before.

Great police officers aren’t born, they’re made. Visit policerecruit.com.au to take the eligibility quiz and see if you’ve got what it takes.

A police car in a paddock stopped at an open gate.
If you own a property within the Tambo police division and would like your local police to drop by for a cuppa and a chat, contact Senior Constable Webber at the Tambo Police Station.

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