Senior Sergeant Matt Jenkins has taken over as station commander at Lakes Entrance following the departure of Senior Sergeant Mel McLennan, who has returned to the Sale Police Station.
Snr Sgt Jenkins oversees three sergeants and 15 other ranked constables at the Lakes Entrance station.
His previous posting was at Orbost where he was the officer in charge of the highway patrol for 10 years.
A career policeman, Snr Sgt Jenkins began policing in Mildura, the town in which he was born.
He has served in areas all over the state, including Wonthaggi, Morwell, Mirboo North, Culgoa and Robinvale.
Married with four children aged between 6-14 years, Snr Sgt Jenkins says he was drawn to East Gippsland because of its natural beauty.
“We’d always holidayed here in Lakes Entrance, it’s a lovely area,” he said.
Snr Sgt Jenkins says the main challenges confronting the area in the future relate to “an increase in tourism and population growth along with the development of areas, such as Metung”.
“I think we can expect a substantial increase in the population,” Snr Sgt Jenkins.
He says a burgeoning community is likely to draw on police resources.
Presently, Snr Sgt Jenkins says the Lakes Entrance station provides a 24-hour response with a minimum of two police members working across the 24-hour cycle.
However, he is quick to point out that there are perceptions in the community because the station is frequently closed that police aren’t working.
Snr Sgt Jenkins says just because the police station is closed it doesn’t mean police aren’t in the town.
“I believe that it is more important that the crew is out on the road and seen patrolling, rather than sitting in the police station waiting for a phone call or inquiry,” he said.
“We currently do not have the staffing profile to have the station open to public inquiries, like a 24-hour station in Bairnsdale.
“This also means that if the unit is processing an offender or on a job there may be a slight delay in a response, as other units in the area are directed to Lakes Entrance.”
Snr Sgt Jenkins says in the future Lakes Entrance can expect the police numbers to increase to ensure that the front counter is opened during daylight hours.
“I know country people like to come in for a chit chat,” he said.
He said a new community engagement strategy that is being implemented will allow the community “to have influence on the way we task and operate”.
That strategy, CommConnect, is an innovation by the chief commissioner of police regarding getting back to basics in policing and engaging with the community.
“Being a country copper all my career and working in isolated and remote areas, I cannot agree more with this strategy,” Snr Sgt Jenkins said.
“I would like to see police working with community groups where we can.”
The strategy also allows for the community to provide feedback on what they see as policing issues in their areas.
If you need police to attend at your address ring 000.
Alternatively, if your matter is not urgent but wish to make a police report you can phone the police assistance line on 131 144.
IMAGE: Senior Sergeant Matt Jenkins is the new station commander at Lakes Entrance Police Station. K92-76