The head of the Nambour Police Station is Senior Sergeant Police Officer in Charge Gary Brayley, a bit of a local legend with a career in policing spanning 30 impressive years. HT’s Rebecca Mugridge enjoyed learning more about all that his police work entails.
by Rebecca Mugridge
The Nambour Police Station sits perched upon a slight hill, behind the town courthouse and just a short stroll from Coles. It is a demountable building like you might find in outback schools. It was originally only designed to be a temporary solution, officially opened on August 24 in 2006 by the Honourable Judy Spence MP.
The station’s Senior Sergeant Police Officer in Charge, Gary Brayley, has a warm and friendly smile that immediately makes you feel welcome. It is a great contrast to the authority in his presence that comes from years of policing. An impressive combination.
When I first arrive, he is finishing a special one-on-one tour with a local young man who regularly visits the station. The young man and his mother’s huge smiles as they leave shows immediately the impact Gary has on those around him, the time he has for people. You can tell he is the kind of leader that communities really bond with.
Gary has been at the Nambour Station for ten years, one third of his policing career. A career that has also seen him work in some incredible parts of our state.
“I arrived here in June 2009 after transferring from Longreach. I joined the police in 1988, so it’s been over 30 years with the last ten years in Nambour. A fair bit of my service in that time was in Central West Queensland, Far West Queensland; Far North Queensland; Normington in the Gulf; Boulia, which is about three hours south of Mount Isa and on the edge of the Simpson dessert; Mareeba just near Cairns; Winton; Longreach and now Nambour.”
Gary says in policing a lot can be the same, regardless of the location, and the biggest issue police deal with day-to-day is sadly domestic violence. “We deal a lot with domestic violence and that occurs no matter where you are.”
A Nambour local, Gary is proud to be the Police Officer in Charge for Nambour. “I was born in Nambour and my parents’ house is still out at Parklands. I left school at 15 to do an apprenticeship with my father as a carpenter where I stayed until I was 23 before I joined the police academy.”
Gary credits an interest in policing and a downturn in the building industry at the time to the career change into policing. A career that has seen him take on roles within the community as well.
“Another role I have as a police officer is in disaster management. I am part of the local Disaster Management Group and that also involves services like Queensland Health, Red Cross, Department of Housing, Queensland Rail, Ergon Energy, all those sorts of support services and government agencies that when there is a cyclone or flood or bushfire we come together.
“The police are always involved in some capacity. I was sent to Bundaberg when they had their major floods and Cooktown when they had a cyclone go through there as well. It can be very, very intense [disaster management] particularly when the disaster is unfolding and roofs are blowing off houses, water levels are increasing, and people are becoming inundated in their own homes. We are right there [on the ground amongst it] managing the evacuations and the safe places for the displaced people.”
Instilling the law, calming someone down in a volatile situation, helping people who have been through trauma, acting in emergencies and accidents, and de-escalating situations. The skillset police need to have is wide. For a lot of people their contact with the police is minimal so they don’t always see how important and demanding the job can be.
“A lot of people go through life without ever having interacted with police, the law-abiding people have no interaction with police until such time as they might become a victim of crime themselves, so there can be a bit of a lack of understanding on what we do, and what our priorities are and how busy and demanding the job actually is.
“We often get requests to be at a certain location for an issue and unfortunately we can’t always get to them as quickly as we would like to, we have to prioritise our tasks and resources where the demands are greater and from time to time we can’t always be everywhere. But generally, I like to think the community does have confidence in what we do.”
The intensity of the job creates a strong comradery and support system. “It is a unique occupation that probably requires a unique type of person to be in. Police are definitely hyper-vigilant. In my role, for example, even though I work a day shift Monday to Friday I am responsible for everything that happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so I’ve got to know what’s going on.”
Gary says they have a really strong team in Nambour. “We really support each other, and we have become close mates. A lot of people go through their entire life and never see anything that we see quite regularly. We have a reputation for a great team of people here. It’s rare that anyone applies to transfer out.”
In Part 2 in February’s HT, Gary shares his thoughts about creating positive connections between the youth and law enforcement, the new police station, local requests for a central police beat, and the importance of a sense of humour!