Newly-appointed Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent was in Mildura today discussing the Mildura Police their preparedness for the bushfire season and sharing some of the learning from this year’s bushfires and meeting the Western Region leadership team of superintendents.
“This gives me an opportunity to engage with the team and to get an understanding of what some of the challenges are that the Mildura team are facing and how I can support them.
“I’m also able to share with them what our organisational priorities are and what we are focussing on a state level.”
While in Mildur,a DC Nugent is also presenting Mildura Leading Constable Joe Clarke with the Neighbourhood Watch Australasia Police Commissioners Award which was bestowed on him in earlier in the year.
“Joe has been so active in the community and proactive around reinvigorating a number of Neighbourhood Watch programs, and it will be a pleasure to do that,” he said.
DC Nugent said that COVID had presented a number of challenges for Victoria Police and the community but that his members had performed well under pressure.
“From a policing perspective who would of thought we would be enforcing a public health and wellbeing act this year? Not a space that we would ever of thought we would have been involved in,” he said.
“The members I have to say, have done an outstanding job, and that includes Mildura Police. “The restrictions just kept changing and then we had to lockdown suburbs in Melbourne. “Who would of thought that? And then came the so called ‘ring of steel’ that operated from the July 8 to November 8 – 24/7 checking the more than two million vehicles.”
In addressing why he thought there had been a spike in the instances of drink driving across the state, including Mildura, where just last Friday a driver intercepted by police was allegedly six times over the legal limit, DC Nugent said it was a form of COVID breakout.
“We noticed in Melbourne, where I think the COVID restriction fatigue has had an impact on families and people in general, and I suspect for some, a coping mechanism is alcohol and also drugs,” he said.
“There’s no doubt a breakout from the restrictions is at play. We are also seeing it in Melbourne, with hundreds of people going to the beach and drinking in large numbers – it’s definitely a sign of a release. “In most part people have behaved themselves extremely well – but for many their is this “I’m free” mentality – “I’m free to take drugs and alcohol and drive and write myself off ” –
let’s hope that resets quickly.”
DC Nugent also loves visiting Mildura – it’s a stopping place en route when on leave travelling to the outback..