DOMESTIC violence, road safety and drug and alcohol-related crime are under the microscope as the region welcomes a new District Commander.
Superintendent Chad Gillies took over the role six weeks ago and is looking to build on the good work of his predecessor, Steve Clarke, to ensure the safety of people in the Hunter Valley Police District.
The 23-year career veteran boasts a wealth of experience and has spent the past five as a crime manager in Goulburn, as well as being a detective of criminal investigation in the Newcastle and Central Coast areas before that.
He said this role will be a new challenge for him, especially with the recent inclusion of Cessnock into their jurisdiction.
He added the policing environment had become a bit more complex in the Hunter Valley, with the staff increasing from 80 to 170, but is confident the districts will communicate better than ever as a result.
Coming into the role without seeing the previous system should be an advantage for Superintendent Gillies, who can observe everything with a fresh outlook.
Part of that stance will involve having a focus on domestic violence, which he said needs to be addressed by officers everywhere.
“It’s a huge issue, it’s an under-reported crime,” he explained.
“I’m aware that there are reports of domestic violence in our district and I would like to see a really consistent approach to how we investigate it.
“But, importantly as well is how we support our victims so that’s an area of interest.
“We have to make sure we’re working really closely with support agencies and other government agencies to make sure we’re not missing any gaps in protecting victims.
“And, ensuring that police are taking appropriate action and investigating DV [domestic violence] thoroughly.”
He also wants to lessen road trauma in the region, which is an area the Upper Hunter has had problems with recently, leading to the appointment of a regional road safety officer.
The final subject he wants to specifically acknowledge is offences related to drugs and alcohol, and said locals deserve better than having to deal with inappropriate behaviour.
“Drugs in any community are a serious issue, and our smaller towns in this district are not immune to drugs such as ice and other kinds of prohibited drugs,” he said.
“Making sure that we’re targeting drug suppliers, making sure that people that are going out in restaurants and cafes can enjoy those atmospheres without intoxicated behaviour.”
Superintendent Gillies also said he plans to visit the smaller stations and know the area; as well as create good relationships with other local authorities to ensure a safer district heading into the future.