SADDENED by the racial violence at the hands of police officers in the US, Canberra’s chief police officer, Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan, says dialogue with the community is really important to prevent that from happening here.
“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t get to the situation here where those sorts of things take place and that’s why dialogue with your community really early on is really important. We’ve just got to keep those lines of communication open,” says Neil, referring to the violent death of innocent African-American man George Floyd, who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer.
“We do police differently here than the US. We’re much more community focused but we’ve got to maintain that community focus and remember why we’re here.”
Neil, who is new to the role as Canberra’s top cop, says it’s incidents like that overseas that reinforce the importance of working with the community for better outcomes for Canberrans.
“That’s why we’re here,” he says.
“We can’t do any of that without consent from the community.”
Neil believes the communication between the police and the community here in the ACT is good and highlights the cooperation between the community and police during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We haven’t given out an infringement notice, every other jurisdiction in Australia has,” he says.
“My officers have shown fantastic restraint and have education and awareness as being used over anything else and I think the community supports us with those endeavours.
“The fact that we haven’t had to do that shows that the community listens to us and the fact that we’re here for the betterment of all Canberrans is what we’re here to do.”
Neil’s comments follow widespread protests across the US, which have since sparked protests in Australia, with one in Canberra this weekend.
Independent organisers are holding a “Black Lives Matter” protest outside the American embassy in Yarralumla at 3pm on Saturday, June 6, to call for justice for George Floyd and other black victims in the US.