On the blog: Policing our neighbourhood

Image of Detective Station Sergeant Jason Kennedy

Station Sergeant Jason Kennedy has been a police officer in the Australian Federal Police (ACT Policing) for more than 20 years; diligently protecting the community he grew up in. Station Sergeant Kennedy is a designated Detective, and has spent his entire career working as an operational officer in General Duties, Collision Investigation and Criminal Investigations. He has investigated a number of serious and complex matters including homicides, armed robberies, sexual assaults, drug matters, arsons and road fatalities; and he is a Visiting Fellow on the nationally acclaimed Management of Serious Crime Program.

In addition to his duties in ACT Policing, Station Sergeant Kennedy has been deployed to the United Nations Force in Cyprus (2000-2001), the Joint-International Investigation of the Kuta-Bali Bombing (2002), and most recently was the Officer-in-Charge of the Christmas Island Police Station (2012-2015).

Station Sergeant Kennedy has received a number of awards and recognition during his career including the National Police Service Medal, ACT Community Policing Medal, ACT Emergency Medal, Police Overseas Service Medal, United Nations Medal, Commissioner’s Group Citation for Excellence in Overseas Service, Australia Day Medallion and Chief Police Officer Awards.

Station Sergeant Kennedy is currently the Officer in Charge of ACT Policing’s Community Safety Portfolio which encompasses Proactive Policing, Education & Diversion.

I consider myself very fortunate for the community policing experiences I have had in the Australian Federal Police; not only here in Canberra where I grew up, but also abroad in Christmas Island and Cyprus.

When I was appointed the Officer in Charge of ACT Policing’s new Community Safety portfolio in October 2015, I was tasked to prevent or reduce opportunities for crime, promote community safety and security, harness the value of police-community engagement, and adopt a multi-agency partnership approach to solve the variety of problems that police are called upon to solve.

The members who have been selected to work in the Community Safety portfolio have a good analytical and proactive approach to solving problems, as well as a good understanding of crime reduction theories and practices. The reason being is often the problems that police are required to solve may not even be a crime, but they do result in repeat calls for service, and have a direct effect on the livelihood of community members. By taking the time to determine the root causes of a problem (which are often complex and involve a range of social factors), enables a proper solution to be identified and solve it. This often involves thinking outside the square, and involving other agencies to become a part of the solution. Tackling the root causes of a problem or crime can solve it for good; which is resource effective and improves people’s life outcomes.

A large focus of the Community Safety portfolio is also on community engagement and building positive relationships with community groups, businesses, schools, government and non-government organisations. Each community I have had the honour of serving has its own issues and expectations of police; but my own experiences have taught me that Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles of Law Enforcement are just as relevant today, as they were in 1829 when they were written; and are just as relevant here in Canberra as they are abroad in Cyprus and Christmas Island. The key theme of Sir Robert Peel’s Principles is the critical need for strong police-community engagement, and the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law.

This coming week (3-9 October 2016) is Neighbourhood Watch Week which is being celebrated across Australia and New Zealand. Neighbourhood Watch is a community led safety and awareness program working in partnership with ACT Policing. Neighbourhood Watch helps people feel more connected to each other in the community, it increases community communication and knowledge, reduces preventable crime, encourages reporting of criminal or suspicious activity and improves the quality of information passed on to police.

The National Week seeks to raise the community’s awareness of their local Neighbourhood Watch program, the benefits of belonging to a local Neighbourhood Watch group and encourage greater participation in Neighbourhood Watch right across the community.

For me, Neighbourhood Watch directly reflects Sir Robert Peel’s 7th Principle, which states:

“The Police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare."

I encourage the Canberra community to get involved in Neighbourhood Watch. If you’d like to feel more connected and work with ACT Policing to reduce crime in your neighbourhood, take the step to join your local Neighbourhood Watch group. You can obtain a membership form from the ACT Neighbourhood Watch website or your local police station.