IT is not hard to notice the wary glances when walking with police officers on the beat.
While some people are possibly up to mischief, others view the men and women in blue with suspicion, akin to how some students perceive teachers.
The Courier recently went on the beat through Rockingham shopping centre with Rockingham police officers Sergeant Stephen Hope-Hume and Constable Jessica Winter.
As part of recent changes to WA Police’s model, officers are encouraged to be active in the community and engage more with the public.
In a bid to stem anti-social behaviour issues in and around the centre, police have been conducting regular patrols during an ongoing initiative.
Sgt Hope-Hume said it was an opportunity for police to have a presence at the shopping centre, but importantly it provided officers scope to |mingle with the public.
‘We are providing more visibility and hopefully that gives comfort to shop owners, and shoppers,’ he said.
‘But it is not about us being intimidating and standoffish, and just walking around doing our own thing.
‘It is important that we are approachable and build rapport with the community.’
While walking around, the officers high-five and playfully interact with numerous children.
‘We want to be likable with the kids because sometimes their perception is that all we do is arrest people, and we can be viewed as just disciplinarians,’ Sgt Hope-Hume said.
‘But we are members of the community, too, and genuinely want to help and make our community a better place.’
Sgt Hope-Hume said police attempted to deter ‘people of interest’, while on the beat.
‘Most people are well behaved, but there is the small section of people who cause problems,’ he said.
‘We look for people we know and monitor what they are doing.
‘Police officers become very good at reading people and can often tell when something suspicious is happening.’