Ride along with police on a nightly patrol of the streets
SERVING to protect the public, police watch for tell-tale signs indicating a threat of trouble is about to escalate.
Detective Inspector Darren Jameson calls it "the police radar" - that in-built sense officers acquire after years on the job.
Allowing APN Media to step over the "blue line" and ride along on a Saturday night patrol, Det Insp Jameson is wary at the wheel.
"It's a heightened sense of perception, staying alert and just observing people," he said.
Minutes into the patrol, there is a situation.
A crowd of bystanders is gathered around a woman who is lying injured on the footpath.
After calling available cars over the radio and requesting ambulance paramedics, Det Insp Jameson walks a shirtless man from the brawl, defusing the situation and establishing what has just happened.
He signals to a car crew arriving on the scene to stop a man who has just walked away.
Moments later, ambulance paramedics transport the woman to hospital and the patrol continues.
Nearby there are three caged police trucks parked outside local hotels - it's a highly visible police presence, a sight to deter the inevitable.
"I have a saying that nothing good happens after midnight, so we are at that point now," Det Insp Jameson says.
It's perfect timing, as a young man jumps and strikes a business sign.
Fortunately for him there is no damage, but he is issued with a move-on direction.
Several groups of underage youths are also stopped and ordered to go home.
"It's for their own protection - a move to stop them crossing paths with drunken adults on the streets once the licensed premises close," Det Insp Jameson said.
Throughout the city centre it is obvious many people have had way too much to drink.
They are hunched over, staring intently at the concrete, asleep on the street or swearing loudly as they queue for taxis.
Warning is given to revellers walking nonchalantly across the highway or sitting on the median strip just metres from passing trucks.
It's a sobering reality.
"We have three crews here looking after drunken hotel patrons when these officers should be on the road, turning over vehicles, arresting crooks and catching professional criminals breaking into homes or business premises," Det Insp Jameson says.
"Alcohol and drugs remain strong drivers of crime within the command and it's evident from our interactions that shows exactly how dangerous excessive alcohol consumption remains as an issue to community safety.
"The drunken and drug-affected boofheads who want to puff out their chest or sharpen their silhouettes and cause problems within the community have a strong effect on our safety.
"Alcohol is bad enough, but when you mix in drugs including cannabis people's reactions become unpredictable and this combination is a dangerous mix.
"My greatest fear is that widespread or increased drug use will make alcohol look like a tea party."
SATURDAY NIGHT OFFENCES
- Twenty-two people through custody
- Failure to quit a premise or remain within 50metres of a hotel, seven $550 tickets issued
- Two $500 criminal infringement notices issued for offensive language
- One charge offensive language
- Two high-range drink-driving charges
- Three intoxicated people held overnight
- One person charged with assault
- Two charged over a stolen motor vehicle
- One drug detection
- Two men in CBD charged with hindering/assaulting police
- Police issue a large number of move-on orders
- Nine personal searches, one vehicle searched
- One officer injured, suffering minor grazing during an arrest
- In 15-months 37 Coffs Clarence police, both male and female officers, injured during arrests.