The Central Western Police District’s new head of court Sergeant Carl Smith says before he relocated to Orange he didn’t expect so much of his time would be spent dealing with prosecutions for serious car and truck crashes.
Sergeant Smith took on the role of prosecuting offenders at Orange Local Court and across the district alongside Senior Constable Beau Riley and Senior Constable Donna Rayner on June 12, and said one of his first prosecutions was for a serious motor vehicle crash at Parkes.
As well as working in Orange and Parkes, he said he and the other prosecutors also cover crime in Forbes, Lake Cargelligo, Condobolin, Cowra and Peak Hill.
In Bourke, 95 per cent of my work was domestic violence, in the Central West there is personal violence matters and driving matters.Central Western Police District head of court Sergeant Carl Smith
Having moved to Orange with his family from Bourke, he said the range of crimes was more diverse in Orange but the high number of crashes involving injury or death was the biggest difference.
“Where I came from in Bourke it was more alcohol-related domestic violence,” Sergeant Smith said.
“Coming out to Orange there’s more property and fraud related offences and more serious motor vehicle accidents.
“The motor vehicle accidents on the road stuck out to me.”
Now that they are doing the increased drug testing the number of people being caught for not just ice but cannabis as well is very surprising, its up there with [drink driving].Central Western Police District head of court Carl Smith
Sergeant Smith said at Bourke there were long straight roads and any crashes usually involved a single vehicle unlike in the Orange area where multiple vehicles or passengers were often involved, leading to the need for more drivers to be prosecuted.
He said he’s also seen a high number of people come before the courts after failing road-side drug tests for methamphetamines and cannabis.
“Now that they are doing the increased drug testing the number of people being caught for not just ice but cannabis as well is very surprising, its up there with [drink driving],” Sergeant Smith said.
However, although it is more diluted by other crimes, Sergeant Smith said Orange does have high rates of domestic violence.
I’ve got a passion for helping domestic violence victims.Central Western Police District head of court Sergeant Carl Smith
“Domestic violence is the big problem no matter where you go,” he said.
“In the Central West the levels are definitely not as bad as Bourke, there’s a bigger mix of crime so it doesn’t stand out as much.
“In Bourke, 95 per cent of my work was domestic violence, in the Central West there is personal violence matters and driving matters.”
He said helping victims of crime, particularly domestic violence victims has been important to him since he joined the police in 2001 and working in general duties at Mt Druitt.
It continued to be an important focus after he became a prosecutor in 2006 and worked at Walgett and Bourke before coming to the Central Western Police District.
“I’ve got a passion for helping domestic violence victims,” he said.
Having worked as a prosecutor at Walgett, Bourke and new Orange, Sergeant Smith has worked with multiple magistrates and said he’s usually agreed with a sentencing decision and other than immediate victims most people who are in court for an entire case would also understand.
He said although some people call for harsher penalties, rehabilitation plays a part in sentencing decisions, magistrates have legal guidelines to follow and there are mitigating factors that the public might not know about.
“The new sentencing regime comes in soon, it will be interesting to see how that goes, it’s got a big focus on rehabilitation,” Sergeant Smith said.
Although he said he enjoyed working as a general duties police officer, he became a police officer with the goal of working as a police prosecutor.
He said his family, including his wife Melissa Smith, who is also a general duties police officer and worked at the PCYC in Bourke, and their children liked Bourke but they relocated so his eldest daughter could start high school next year and be with the family rather than have to go to boarding school.
Since coming here he said he has also come across people he had prosecuted at Bourke who are transient and visit Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo.
“They do move around a lot,” Sergeant Smith said.
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