AN OFFICER will be hired at the Whitfield police station after the sole officer went on leave 18 months ago, leaving it unmanned.
The community has been campaigning for the station to re-open for months amid fears for public safety.
The town’s petrol station was forced to padlock its bowsers to prevent thefts and there were concerns about deer hunters spotlighting in the area.
Superintendent Paul O’Halloran confirmed on Thursday the force was “keen to get an officer in there as soon as we can”.
“We’re moving as quick as we can to make sure there’s a suitable officer appointed to the position,” he said.
“Obviously there’s a process that we have to follow to achieve that.
“There is going to be an officer at the station.”
Resident Delia Jackson welcomed the news, which followed extensive campaigning on the issue.
“The whole community, when they find out out, will be very happy,” she said.
“We’ve had an increase in thefts, but a lot of people have been concerned with hunters.
“We have a lot of people spotlighting for deer.
“A new officer will be great for the community.
“Every police officer in this small community becomes an integral part of it on so many levels.”
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy recently raised the issue in Parliament and said people had needed to know when the station would again be operational.
“We weren’t going to let this issue go,” he said.
“It’s not done and dusted yet but we’re very excited to think we will get a full-time officer back in Whitfield.
“Illegal activity has really gotten out of hand.
“People aren’t saying they’re unsafe, but they feel unsafe when there are people driving through town, shooting deer on the edge of town.
“A local police officer will make a big difference.”
Superintendent O’Halloran couldn’t say when the officer would start.
“There’s a process we have to go through to achieve that. In the interim, we’re very conscious of Whitfield and the surrounding community,” he said.