The days of policing revolving around the idea of a garda living and waiting in the local station all day for a call are long gone, and there is no point in hankering for them, this week’s meeting of Galway County Council Joint Policing Committee was told.
In response to a call from Athenry councillor Shelley Herterich Quinn for a local sergeant ‘on tap’ to respond to the concerns of the locals, Chief Supt Gerry Roche said that that previous model of policing is not sustainable or safe.
Cllr Herterich Quinn said that in her years as a public rep, she has not worked with any local garda to discuss local concerns.
“Can we get to a place where we have a local sergeant on tap, as that really is missed. I hear a lot of stories from people who miss that the local guard, revered and respected in the area is no longer around, as was the case years ago.
“Back then, there was a fear there and respect for the gardai. A full time guard in every station would be a real result for rural Ireland. I would like if you could see that such a model might return,” she said.
In response, Chief Supt Roche said that the new community policing plan to be unveiled by gardai in April will focus on that and the guards in each area will be tasked to engage with many sectors of the local community.
But he said that there was little point in hankering back to times when the local garda lived above the station.
“There has been wholesale societal change. People don’t necessarily live in their areas of work anymore. This includes gardai and even teachers. People prefer not to mix work with their private lives.
“Every station has a guard allocated to it, how they work. Sitting around waiting for a call isn’t ideal anymore. They work in hubs. To work alone is too dangerous and not sustainable.
“I have to make sure that our people double up. Visibility might not be there but they are there. Anywhere they are, they are appreciated and I appreciate the work they do,” he added.