The Midland Police CBD team are the toast of the WA force, taking out the Police Team of The Year award at the Nine News WA Police Excellence Awards on Thursday morning.
Midland Constables Ryan Petrie, Damien Kent and Dwayne Hohnke make up the Midland CBD Team, specifically formed in August last year to put a different slant on dealing with crime in Midland, according to Midland OIC Senior Sergeant Jason Longhorn.
“There was an identified issue in Midland with homelessness, retail theft, antisocial behaviour and there was a general community feeling that there was more needed,” he said.
“It needed a specific approach, a personality where they could engage with the community, be firm with these people but also be understanding and empathetic towards them.
“So these three young men, two of which are ex-armed forces, took on the role and have been outstanding.”
Constable Petrie said the award was a tremendous honour that reaffirmed their role in the community and reinforced the impact they were having, an impact they had perhaps not realised.
“You don’t really realise what you have achieved, and the impact of what you’ve done and the enormity of what you’ve achieved until you’ve stopped to take a breath, so to speak,” he said.
“It’s a big honour and we’re really proud to get this award.
“You don’t to this job to win awards but at the same time, you take them when they come.”
While admitting it was hard to pinpoint one instance that encapsulates the experience of the CBD team, Constable Petrie said the entire team kept going back to one moment.
“When we gave one of the local elders, Rex, a replacement guitar,” he said.
“If you look at the history of Rex’ police involvement prior to that, it’s quite substantial.
“Since we got together to get him a guitar, there’s been no police involvement with Rex as either a perpetrator or a victim.
“Just seeing the difference that can make, it’s great and it was a nice thing, we feel good about it but also from a business point of view, the cost efficiency and the price of a guitar against all the other factors, from a business point of view it’s fantastic.
“That’s a little win that we realise now was really important.”
The award comes as the CBD team undergoes some changes, with Constables Petrie, Kent and Hohnke moving on to other roles inside the Midland team.
However that doesn’t mean the CBD team will disappear, with Senior Constable June Tairua now heading the team that will expand in numbers.