BUILDING a strong connection with the local community will be the first priority for Coleraine’s newest police officer, Shaun McCulloch.
The newly-promoted sergeant took the reins at the Coleraine Police Station last week after spending the past two years as Penshurst’s sole policeman.
Sgt McCulloch said he was excited by the challenge of the new role and getting to know the Coleraine community.
“It was a hard decision to leave Penshurst – it’s a great community – but I’m really looking forward to building a connection with Coleraine,” he said.
“I have family in Coleraine and I have had a lot to do with Coleraine during my time at Penshurst and Hamilton in the past five and a half years, so I’m not a blow-in … and when the opportunity came up it was too good not to do.
“Coleraine is a community with a great reputation and I’m excited to work with the other members here to increase our service to the community.”
Having spent a lot of time involved in the Penshurst community during his time there, Sgt McCulloch said he would take the same approach in Coleraine.
“I love the community side of policing,” he said.
“I’ve always said the police station is an extension of the community and so it’s important the community knows who you are and knows that they can come and speak to you.
“Everyone in Penshurst would know that I love to have a chat … and that’s probably the most frustrating part about the COVID-19 restrictions at the moment.
“A lot of the smaller stations are closed to the public, but it’s important we make sure the community knows we’re still here in the town and that they can still call us or flag us down in the street.
“I’ve been pulling over and getting out of the van to talk to people on the morning walks this week, and I’m excited to continue doing more community policing work once we get back to some sort of normality.”
With a background in management before joining the police force, Sgt McCulloch said he was looking forward to “taking on more responsibility” at Coleraine and working closely with Hamilton and Casterton police.
Southern Grampians police service area commander, Inspector Terry Hay said Sgt McCulloch would bring a lot of experience to the Coleraine Police Station.
“Shaun has done a terrific job at Penshurst, which has been acknowledged by the community and us at Victoria Police,” he said.
“We could not have been happier with his efforts and this in the large part is why Shaun was promoted to the rank of sergeant at Coleraine.”
Insp Hay said Sgt McCulloch’s appointment was part of Victoria Police’s commitment to increasing police resources in Coleraine.
“Coleraine has not had a sergeant for a number of years, being staffed by two senior constables,” he said.
“We consulted with the local community and it was clear Coleraine needed some further support and focus (and) we made a decision to restore the sergeant position.
“It is exciting times for Coleraine and we at Victoria Police are committed to the town and its surrounding community.
“I have every confidence that the community will respond warmly to Shaun and his team.”
Along with Sgt McCulloch, the Coleraine Police Station will be boosted with a third senior constable in the coming months, as part of a 20-officer increase across the Southern Grampians and Glenelg shire.
The Coleraine and District Development Association has been an advocate for increasing policing numbers in Coleraine, and former president, John Kane said he was glad to see more officers around the town.
“As a community, we are delighted to have Sgt McCulloch and another constable in Coleraine,” he said.
“It’s been a very frustrating time … five years ago we had a full complement of police and that had dwindled down.
“We started lobbying a few years ago to get more officers and … it’s great to see that we’re getting more now.
“Coleraine is the second biggest town in the shire and we have an elderly population … so it’s important to have that safety police provide.”
Penshurst won’t have to wait long for its new officer either, with the search to appoint Sgt McCulloch’s replacement already underway, Insp Hay said.
“We’re keen to appoint another officer who will continue the great work Shaun did in Penshurst.”