– Community leaders have joined police on regular patrols in Dandenong as the force tries to improve ties with troubled ethnic youths.
The ethnically diverse city has crime rates almost 40% higher than the state average, and Victoria Police is anxious to avoid the sort of problems it has recently had over racial profiling.
In February, police settled a claim that they had racially profiled six young men of African descent in the Flemington area. They had spent about $3 million fighting the claim before deciding to settle.
The program, named Operation Pylet, is based on a similar model used in Sydney’s west, and involves community leaders joining police on Friday and Saturday nights as they visit shopping centres, parties and streets with high levels of petty crime. Fairfax Media was given exclusive access to the first shift on the beat.
Sergeant Joey Herrech modified the Sydney and international versions of similar programs to suit Dandenong and surrounding suburbs. He said Pylet was a logical fit for the region and an acknowledgment the force had foaled to communicate with some youths in the past.
Pacific Islanders and Sudanese community leaders wee informed by Victoria Police last year that their populations were overrepresented in crime statistics. The figures were not released publicly.
Sergeant Herrech said that while the program was not directly linked with the cultural background of youths, that would be a focus in suburbs where certain ethnic groups had large populations.
Sudanese and Pacific Islander leaders have been involved in the first Pylet shifts. The leaders are volunteers and given background checks before their appointment. They wear civilian clothes with a high-visibility vest similar to those worn by officers, but with Pylet instead of police on the front.
Youths spoken to during a Pylet shift will be encouraged to participate in community programs.
Sergeant Herrech said it was vital to move away from “judge, jury and executioner” style policing to ensure youths were not stuck in a cycle of offending. “It’s no secret that we’ve got a strong representation of anti-social behaviours and groups of young people gathering and reducing perceptions of safety, they are our core issues,” he said.
While youth advocates and community legal services commended the police settlement of the civil case involving racial profiling in February, there have been several other recent cases involving allegedly racist officers.
In March, the ABC reported that court documents filed as part of the racial profiling case detailed a secret police operation, codenamed Molto, that targeted young African Australians living in or visiting the Flemington public housing estate in 2006.
The operation was designed to investigate a series of thefts, but police reportedly received almost 30 formal complaints alleging police harassment, abuse, and teenagers being dumped after police bashings. None of the complaints were upheld.
Fairfax Media reported last May that Victoria Police had made payouts totalling tens of thousands of dollars to immigrant youths who have accused officers of physical brutality and racism during incidents dating back to 2006 – Niño Bucci


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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