Close to a decade after first becoming a local area command, and seeing seven commanders come and go, Port Stephens LAC and part of the Central Hunter LAC merged in January to create the Port Stephens Hunter Police District bringing with a new senior management structure, operation and more “boots on the ground”.
Superintendent Craig Jackson, commander of the new Port Stephens Hunter Police District, said the rollover to the new structure had been a “steep learning curve” but praised his officers for making the transition “seamlessly”.
“We were given six weeks over the Christmas and New Year period to get this done,” he said.
“I think getting it done in such a short amount of time, whilst still doing the business of running a police response to the community, speaks volumes for the quality of the people we have in the district. It was done pretty seamlessly.”
Superintendent Jackson will mark 30 years with the NSW Police Force in May. No stranger to moving around, he has worked in 12 locations during his policing years.
He was commander of the Deniliquin, Hunter Valley and Central Hunter LACs before taking charge of the Port Stephens Hunter Police District, made up with 222 officers.
This is double the strength the Port Stephens LAC had, with figures from September 2017 showing the command had an authorised force of 109.
“I have 222 police across the district, which is really good number to work with,” Superintendent Jackson said. “We’ve been allocated, as part of that 222, 10 extra positions which will all be front line, general duties police.
“That 222 give us opportunity and flexibility in relation to putting a couple of extras into our proactive target action groups.
“They go out and address the crime issues as they're occurring. If we get a spike of break and enters or stolen cars the target action group will be the ones to look at it first.”
Despite now overseeing a new and diverse policing area, spanning Maitland, Dungog, Tea Gardens, Karuah, Nelson Bay and Lemon Tree Passage, the Superintendent said said there was “not too much difference” between the crime in Port Stephens and the former Central Hunter command.
Domestic violence, break and enters, motor vehicle theft and assaults are some of the crimes Superintendent Jackson said he keeps a close eye on.
“I like to see what type of crime is occurring and where it’s occurring,” he said. “But that changes as well. We get peaks and troughs.
“I’m a very strong believer in proactivity, which means we identify who we think we need to be focusing on and then we focus on them using the powers that we have.
“We don’t wait before they commit crime, we get in their face before that happens. I'm a believer in it and I certainly think it gains results.”
Superintendent Jackson is the Port’s eighth commander since 2008. He replaced Acting Superintendent Steve Laska, who in turn replaced Superintendent Wayne Humphrey (May-November 2017).
Humphrey, who was promoted to the Northern Region Operations Manager, took on the top job after Superintendent Chris Craner (February 2016-March 2017) left Port Stephens to fill a Chief of Staff position with the NSW Police Commissioner.
Before Craner, Chris Schilt held the position (September 2015-February 2016), taking over from Superintendent Craig Rae (April 2013-September 2015). Before Rae the commander was Trevor Shiels (May 2012-March 2013) who replaced the Port LACs first commander, the now retired Charlie Haggett.
Superintendent Jackson said he is here to stay.
“There’s no plans for me to move,” he said. “It is good to have that stability with the commander but the really important people in the district are the operational police who do the job day to day and there’s that continuity there.”
Under the new model a number of Inspectors have been appointed as officers in charge (OICs) of sectors across the district. OICs are based at their stations. The OICs are:
- Chief Inspector Glenn Blain – Maitland
- Inspector Tony Townsend – Raymond Terrace and the smaller outlying stations such as Dungog and Tea Gardens
- Inspector Brian Tracey – Nelson Bay and Lemon Tree Passage
As well as OICs, under the new mode there are District Inspector roles, which have been filled by:
- Inspector Al Jansen – District Inspector who will oversee pre-planned and reactionary events
- Inspector Craig Reid – District Inspector in charge of human resourcing and professional standards
“As part of the restructure we've lost some senior positions,” Superintendent Jackson said. “Those senior positions have been converted into, as the [police] commissioner puts it, boots on the ground.
“No matter what the structure looks like the basics remain the same in providing a service to the local community.”
Port Stephens Hunter Police District has retained Central Hunter’s drug unit. Detectives are split between the Maitland and Raymond Terrace stations, but work as one unit.
Police with specialist roles such as the crime management unit, crime prevention officer and crime manager Detective Inspector George Radmore are based at Raymond Terrace Police Station, which is the district’s headquarters.
Detective Inspector Radmore returns to Port Stephens after moving to the Central Hunter LAC in October 2016. Before that, he was the Port LAC’s crime manager for three years. He has retained the crime manager position under the new district model.
Superintendent Jackson splits his time between the Raymond Terrace and Maitland stations.