TAMWORTH’S thin blue line will dramatically increase from tomorrow, with about 250 police officers on duty for the Country Music Festival, which starts on Friday.
Oxley Local Area Command duty officer for operations, Inspector Jeff Budd, has unveiled the plans for the police operation and says, combined, the officers will work 1350 shifts during the 10-day festival period and will maintain a high police presence across the city.
Officers will be out on foot, bicycles and horses, and a contingent of general-duties and highway patrol cars, as well as motorbikes, will be deployed to the area.
Drug dogs and operations support group officers will also be on hand, targeting those delving into illicit drugs and anti-social behaviour during the festival.
Aboriginal community liaison officers will also make another appearance on bikes, following a successful debut at last year’s festival.
But Inspector Budd said the contingent didn’t just include high-visibility policing, with a crew of specialist intelligence and support staff working behind the scenes.
He said the majority of the officers involved in the festival were country cops and enjoyed getting out and engaging with the community as well as tackling crime.
“I’d like to think that the police involvement with Tamworth Regional Council and the festival advisory group has aided the festival in becoming what it is today,” Inspector Budd said.
“Over the last two years it has become a more vibrant festival and the crowds are family-orientated.
“I’d like to think we played a part in achieving that.”
He said the introduction of the festival bus services for visitors and patrons across the city had dramatically reduced drink-driving statistics during the festival period and he hoped that would continue.
Inspector Budd said there would still be a police presence elsewhere in Tamworth and those who did the wrong thing could expect to be dealt with swiftly.
“The Oxley command will function and be staffed as per normal over and above the staffing of the festival,” he said.
“This is a great time for Tamworth, but if you aim to misbehave we will remove you from the fun.
“Historically the locals are the main offenders during festival time, however incidents of anti-social behaviour did decrease, along with PCAs (drink-driving), last year.
“The festival is without doubt one of the greatest experiences you can have in Australia. Our role is to make sure it remains memorable and that everyone wants to come back.”