Turning a corner on the strip: a night on patrol with Fremantle and Cockburn police

Turning a corner on the strip: a night on patrol with Fremantle and Cockburn police

IT’S 10pm on a Saturday night and while most are with family or friends, members of the Fremantle Local Policing Team 1 (LPT) and Cockburn’s South Metro Northern Response officers are preparing to keep our city streets safe for the night.

Privileged enough to ride with senior constable James Wilson and police constable Matt Silvester of LPT 1 as part of Operation Nightsafe, we were given a first-hand experience at what happens on our streets after dark.

Not even 20 minutes into our three- hour shift, officers are called to an incident where residents have heard an explosion, can see smoke and a man’s legs hanging from a third-storey building next to the old police station.

Within minutes, we arrive at the location and are joined by firefighters and ambulances.

Watching on, it is an intense situation but this crew has seen this sort of thing before and handle it with the professionalism you would expect.

The man is taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital for assessment, while the rest of the crew assess what has happened.

Inside they find traces of blood and a fire extinguisher used to smash the window.

More than an hour later we’re back on the streets and officers take to the port city’s cappuccino strip, where it’s well and truly in full swing.

Senior constable James Wilson and police constable Matt Silvester have not even finished parking their car when they’re approached by security from one of the establishments, informing them there are reports someone is walking around with three knives on them.

It doesn’t take long before the officers and the rest of the crew are searching the man in question, the three knives are confiscated and the man is issued with a move on notice.

What’s interesting in this incident is the interruption, idiocy and drunken abuse given to the officers while they’re doing their job.

Within 15 minutes of this search, officers were confronted by a man who had been previously issued with a move on notice.

Clearly intoxicated, it’s a situation that could have escalated if not for the quick work of the police who placed him in a van and took him to the station.

During the same search, officers are again confronted by two men, with one yelling he has been assaulted by someone down the road.

He is shortly afterwards escorted away by a group of male friends.

The importance of police presence, along with City security and Street Chaplains is obvious, with a high priority on the safety of those wanting to enjoy a night out.

These incidents were the main things witnessed in just over three hours, though there was the odd altercation, street drinking ($200 fine), tourist selfie, breathalyser request, urinating in public ($500 fine) and vomiting situation, which the officers took in their stride.

Benny’s Bar and Caf owner Ivan Dzeba, said he has seen a huge improvement on the strip.

“These guys (police) do an amazing job out here,” he said.

“They work with the security guys and street chaplains and it has made a huge difference.

“I think Fremantle has really turned a corner and it’s a great place to come and spend a night out.”

These officers shared their stories. Some work 12-hour days, only to back up it up the next day.

One of them was a single mum with three children, one a father of a 20-month-old with another on the way and another a father-of-two who looked after the community while the rest enjoyed Christmas Day.

Something to think about next time you’re out and about.

Timeline of events

10.20pm, drive around Fremantle to check for incidents.
10.30pm, go to first job involving some sort of explosion and man on a third-storey window.
11.45pm, finish job and arrive at the cafe strip.
11.47pm, a man is searched after reports of him carrying a weapon. Police confiscate three knives.
11.49pm, a man previously issued with a move-on notice confronts police during pat down search; he is placed in van and taken to Fremantle station.
11.55pm, a third man confronts police during search, shouting he has been assaulted.
12.30am, walk through quiet streets.
1.30am, monitor people leaving venues.

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