Communication key

ON a busy Saturday night in the South Metropolitan Police District, reporter Emma Clayton spent a night shift in a police car with a team from the local Response Team. These are the officers who respond to calls for police assistance, including urgent calls, in the area from Fremantle to Canning Bridge and south to Beeliar, where every night brings something different.

POLICING isn’t really what most people think it is.

Sure, there are foot chases and pursuits, arrests and lock-ups, but there is also planning, files, collaboration and, of course, paperwork.

Much of the job turns out to be about communication and interacting with many different kinds of people in a huge range of different situations.

Tonight I’m in the car with South Metro Response Team (north) officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Tony Booker at the wheel and First Class Constable Rob Grdjan operating the Tardis, the in-car computer that allows quick access to information about people, vehicles and jobs police are responding to.

The residents of a share house in Willagee tell us six or seven tattooed men burst into their house and threatened the four of them with violence while asking for someone who was not there.

Police are told they eventually separated one housemate from the others and beat him up with a baseball bat before leaving the scene.

Though he seems well and truly beaten up to me, the man declines any medical help and police take a statement from each of those present.

A few leads are teased out and we’re off to try and find someone who may have more information. This leads us to a home in Fremantle where four police officers cover all exits and bang on the door until they wake up the sleeping resident, who can’t help them with their inquiries after all.

Response officers will try to complete a job during that shift and if not, it will go to the local police station for follow-up. This offence, which may constitute an aggravated burglary and assault, is still under investigation by Palmyra police.

I learn the most important tool police officers have is their ability to talk to all sorts of different people, overcoming emotion, language barriers, as well as many distractions, to calm a situation and get as much information as possible.