Police chief moves on
Saturday, 11th January, 2020
By Myles Burt
The Barrier Police District will be saying goodbye to their commander, Superintendent Paul Smith, as he transfers into a new police district.
Supt. Smith will become the new commander of the Murray River Police District on January 20, where he’ll be based in Albury.
Supt. Smith will be replaced by Superintendent Andrew Spliet, who is currently based in Wagga Wagga and is the Crime Manager of the Riverina Police District.
Supt. Smith said the Murray River PD is a much smaller Police District but holds double the staff and a larger population compared to Barrier PD.
There would be much less travel-time going across the Murray River PD compared to Barrier PD, which stretches 784kms from Tibooburra to Balranald.
“I think anywhere would be much less travel time than Barrier, as you know covering 23 per cent of the state, she’s a big chunk of dirt,” Supt. Smith said.
Supt. Smith said the commander position in Albury would be a good opportunity for his career and family.
He has worked in the Barrier PD over the last four-and-a-half years, and had previously worked Broken Hill beforehand for five years, and he also did a few years in Dareton.
“I’ve had a fair chunk of my career in the Far West, but certainly I must say I’ve enjoyed every bit of it,” Supt. Smith said.
“Really good, solid communities who support each other and support their local police.
“But it’s an opportunity that’s come up and it’s time to take that opportunity.”
Supt. Smith said he’ll be thrown right into the job as he takes charge of police and interstate efforts to help emergency services combat bushfires that have burned through the high plains within the Murray River PD.
“So that’ll be a challenge and I’ve certainly been keeping abreast of that,” he said.
He said some of the best achievements the Barrier District had achieved included re-engineering and reforming the police district from the Barrier Local Area Command into the new Barrier Police District, which now incorporates the Local Government Area of Balranald Shire.
Supt. Smith said employing a new Police Inspector for the Central Darling Shire and the Unincorporated Area has certainly paid off for the Barrier Police District, and the communities in that area.
Another big achievement was securing the contract and land for the new Barrier Police District Headquarters and Broken Hill Police Station.
“130 years this station has served us very well, but it’s time for a new one,” Supt. Smith said.
“We’ll see that happen, we’ll certainly see some work happening on that during 2020, and I’d like to think that if not finished at the end of this year, it would be early 2021.”
Supt. Smith said they’ve definitely seen some wins through their cross-border policing involving South Australian and Victorian Police, especially in the last 12 months where the Barrier PD has established a real focus on drug trafficking through the area, particularly on the Sturt and Barrier Highways.
Supt Smith said whilst the seizures haven’t had much light in the public eye, there has definitely been a significant impact on local dealers and the drugs trade in the Far West.
“We’ve seen some significant seizures, kilos of methamphetamine, tens of kilos of cannabis, over a million dollars in cash,” Supt. Smith said.
“All from different seizures, which pretty much came down to good police work of those involved and interstate cooperation between police forces.”
Receiving a celebratory send off last night from police in the Barrier PD, Supt. Smith said he’ll be taking with him great memories from his time here, and will be back for the grand unveiling of the new headquarters.
“It’s fairly unique the Far West in being somewhat laid back, but the communities are so accepting and supportive,” Supt. Smith said.
“That’s what I remember from being here a couple of times previously and going elsewhere, just thinking back to how supportive our communities right across the Barrier, and how easy it is to communicate and get along with people.
“No doubt I’ll be back and catch up with these people, if not here probably in other parts of the state over their career and my career.”
Supt. Smith said he would like to thank the communities of the Far West for their ongoing support to their police in making their communities a safer place.