District Officer Inspector Ron Van Saane
District Officer Inspector Ron Van Saane

Who's in charge of Gympie police?

GYMPIE police say they will continue to strive towards reducing crime and cutting the road toll, despite vacated senior positions creating staff shortages down the chain of command.

The region’s police will soon be without any leadership with Queensland Police Service failing to replace the Gympie Police District’s top cops.

Former Superintendent Alan Bourke gave notice of his retirement many months in advance and despite finishing up in July, the position is still unfilled.

Inspector Ron Van Saane, who has been acting in the chief position, has been promoted to Superintendent of Rockhampton Police District.

His departure had been scheduled for the end of next week but this has now been postponed to January.

Officer in Charge of Gympie Police Station, Senior Sergeant Phil Edwards, is on sick leave battling cancer and until his return, his position is being filled by several general duties Sergeants.

As a result, police stations throughout the Gympie Police District are being left short of manpower and leadership.

Acting Supt, Inspector Ron Van Saane said many Gympie station police officers had been in acting roles for the past 12 months. He said he had been acting as Superintendent on and off for the past three-and-a-half years.

“(People) might complain about police shortages here but if you look at the last two year’s crime statistics, we are actually maintaining and reducing some classes of crime,” he said.

“Because I’ve been stepping up so often, the Senior Sergeants who have been acting as Inspector have been doing it for an extended period and they are all capable of doing the job.”

Queensland Police Union’s general secretary Mick Barnes said the process of filling senior roles on a temporary basis created vacancies all the way down the chain of command.

“Clearly these vacancies have been known for a long time. By not filling the vacancies quickly, it causes dysfunction in the management of policing, in any area, let alone the whole Gympie Police District,” he said.

“The dynamic nature of policing today requires the appropriate operational and strategic balance that can ordinarily only be made by the person who holds the position,” he said.

“Officers in temporary positions cannot make a lot of permanent decisions.

“I certainly call upon the Commissioner to fill these positions immediately so the core duty of policing can resume in the Gympie District.”

The response from Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson was that the position of Superintendent, District Officer and Operations Inspector of Gympie Police District had been advertised, and processes were under way to have these position filled as soon as possible.

“Until the positions are permanently filled, a number of local officers will be relieving in higher positions and a Commissioned Officer from outside Gympie District will perform the District Officer’s role in the interim period,” he said.

“Senior positions within the Queensland Police Service are actively sought by officers, and the merit based selection process ensures suitable replacements are found.”

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