Shepparton inspector working for the community

By Liz Mellino

For the next six weeks the News is working alongside Victoria Police to promote the Community Safety Network.

Shepparton has been selected as one of six towns for the second year of the program, a partnership between the Victorian community, Victoria police, the government, Crime Stoppers Victoria and Neighbourhood Watch.

Four topics have been identified by the project, rural burglaries, theft from motor vehicles, firearm storage and tradie tool theft, and each of these will be covered in a story published in Friday’s edition of the News.

For more than 20 years, Troy Hargadon has put on his navy police uniform and gone to work alongside the community.

The Shepparton police Inspector has spent the past 24 years serving the areas in which he has lived, experiencing first-hand the importance of the community during day-to-day duties.

While his career in the police force began unexpectedly, Insp Hargadon has since gathered experience across metro and rural areas, witnessing the best and worst policing has to offer.

“I applied with a family member who at the same time had a long-term desire to join the Victoria Police. Unfortunately that family member wasn’t successful with their application and I was, so the journey began,” Insp Hargadon said.

His career wearing navy blue began in Coburg, working alongside a diverse community.

Insp Hargadon then took up a position in Bendigo, where he worked for a number of years before being promoted to sergeant and moving to Swan Hill.

From there he spent time managing a team of police who provided assistance to police in the far western region of Victoria, including Robinvale and Mildura.

Insp Hargadon then found himself in the Goulburn Valley before heading back to Bendigo, where he was promoted to senior sergeant.

“It was a great opportunity for me at Bendigo, where I was able to develop my skills and influence some really effective and efficient teams,” he said.

A promotion to inspector came along in 2016 and he spent some time in Benalla before taking on the role of Local Area Commander in Shepparton in February last year.

While he admits his day-to-day work can be challenging, Insp Hargadon said the reward he gained from the role far outweighed anything else.

Over the past two decades he said he had learnt the importance of community and the impact it can have on policing.

“We’re only as good as the information and assistance we are provided by the community and we’ve got to be prepared to listen and take that on board,” Insp Hargadon said.

Greater Shepparton is currently one of six towns selected for the second year of the Community Safety Network, a partnership project between the local community, Victoria Police, the government, Crime Stoppers Victoria and Neighbourhood Watch.

The Community Safety Network aims to help support communities and police to increase their understanding of what the local crime issues are and use that to influence their priorities.

“We conducted a lot of stakeholder engagement with the community in regards to what they considered to be areas of crime that were causing the greatest harm or concern,” Insp Hargadon said.

“Effectively the results were quite strong – one was drug-related crime, one was theft-related crime and one was in relation to youth offending.”

Insp Hargadon said these results would be used to target future police campaigns to help reduce the harm these crimes caused.

With about 69 per cent of thefts from motor vehicles occurring from unlocked vehicles and 30 per cent of burglaries occurring from premises that have not been secured, Insp Hargadon said the statistics showed there was room for improvement.

“When you factor that in to the impact on policing services, it’s a lot of time, resources and dedication to investigations that could arguably have been preventable,” he said.

He said the Community Safety Network involved police understanding the true issues of locals and fostering partnerships to help minimise future offending.

Insp Hargadon urged Greater Shepparton residents to talk to police when they had an issue or saw them travelling around town, encouraging the community to get to know the faces behind the badge.

“The information the community hold can often be vital to our successes or failures,” he said.

“We are always open to conversations around information relating to crimes, issues or concerns people may have.”