Regional police officers still in dark as decision still pending on reported mergers

Still waiting: Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says an announcement on the re-engineering of regional Local Area Commands is due soon. Photo: AAP IMAGE/ DAN HIMBRECHTS
Still waiting: Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says an announcement on the re-engineering of regional Local Area Commands is due soon. Photo: AAP IMAGE/ DAN HIMBRECHTS

Police officers in Orange and across the Central West are no closer to knowing if their operations will be merged, with no decision about regional Local Area Commands (LAC) announced by NSW Police.

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed 18 metro commands will be amalgamated into nine, with less commanding officers and more boots on the ground his ultimate goal.

It is understood similar plans are in place for regional NSW, with 11 country LACs rumoured to be merged into seven.

At this stage it is unknown if there are any plans in place to alter the Canobolas Local Area Command, which encompasses Orange, Cowra, Canowindra, Molong, Cumnock, Eugowra and Manildra, among other small locations.

Mr Fuller was asked about regional commands while unveiling the framework for metropolitan areas but said that announcement would be made in the coming weeks, and would be different to the city scheme.

Acting Public Service Association (PSA) General Secretary Troy Wright said the PSA had long heard “whispers” about mergers in metropolitan and regional areas.

“We were only informed this week that a formal announcement would be made about metropolitan mergers, but on regional areas we are still in the dark,” he said.

The PSA considers the country amalgamation rumours “most concerning to public safety” as mergers in both metropolitan and regional areas could potentially lead to cuts in the civilian police force, meaning uniformed police spent more time behind the desk and less out in the community.

Mr Wright said he assumed the decision may have been made to split announcements about metropolitan and regional restructures because of the Cootamundra and Murray byelections.

A spokesperson for Police Minister Troy Grant said it was “entirely false to suggest that police services will be reduced in any way” as a result of any structural changes.

“It is in no way about cutting officer numbers,” she said.

Local police and communities across NSW will be consulted on any potential changes as the re-engineering continues, she said.