Police can't patrol highways
UNDERSTAFFED and overworked.
That is how the secretary of the Central Highlands sub-branch of the Queensland Police Union has described the thin blue line tasked with patrolling the notoriously dangerous stretch of the Peak Downs Hwy on the Eton Range.
Sergeant Ian Park, Officer in Charge at Dysart, said Middlemount and Dysart stations were both currently operating with only one officer and it was impacting on the officers' ability to police the region.
"We're supposed to have two officers at each of those stations," Sgt Park said.
"The (Mackay) district is so short on resources, they're unable to supply relief officers.
"That has an impact on our ability to do proactive policing; and that's not only traffic and patrolling, because we're weighed down with all the other work we've got."
Sgt Park said the lack of a police presence on the roads was only a symptom of a much deeper staffing problem within the Queensland Police Service.
"I don't believe... our regional offices and Brisbane offices... have shown support," he said.
"And by that I mean management above Mackay.
"We are not valued as employees...the Queensland Police has lost its vision.
"And when you ask for relief and support there's none because the cupboard's bare."
Mr Park's concerns have been echoed by many in the community.
Nebo landowner Greg Boto said he believed a lack of police enforcement on the Peak Downs Hwy was one of the main reasons so many horrific car crashes occurred on the road.
"As much as none of us like being pulled up by policemen, we need more of a police presence on the highway," Mr Boto said.
"Our local Nebo policeman has been doing more than his duties call for - he's doing a terrific job but running on overload."
Similarly, Proserpine resident Shane Kelly said he had recently encountered police unable to attend the scene of a hazard on the Bruce Hwy due to low staff numbers.
After crashing his motorcycle on the Bruce Hwy due to a pot hole, Mr Kelly encountered a Whitsunday police station unable to help him.
"I rang Whitsunday police and they weren't interested, they said go to Proserpine station," Mr Kelly said.
"When I got to Proserpine station, I was told there were no police there who could take my statement."
Police Minister Jack Dempsey said the previous Labor Government was responsible for creating a poor situation for regional police.
"The Labor Government's inability to listen to the frustrations of police officers and the community has left the Queensland Police Service in need of more recruits and more resources," Mr Dempsey said.
"We have a plan to revitalise the QPS by recruiting 1100 extra police officers across Queensland in the next four years and redeploying 200 police from desk roles to frontline services.
"The LNP Government has promised to recruit more police officers and deliver more resources across Queensland."
He said the LNP Government was also launching new revised entry requirements to attract a range of recruits to start a career with the Queensland Police Service.
"Queensland is currently undergoing a significant sustained police recruitment drive and we'd like to see people from all walks of life apply," Mr Dempsey said.