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Childers Police VIPs serve for 22 years

Childers Police volunteers
Officer in Charge of Childers Police Sergeant Geoff Fay with one of the station’s two Volunteer in Policing Barry Cochrane.

Childers Police has embraced the assistance offered by local VIPs for more than 22 years.

While these Childers VIPs are considered “very important people”, the VIP acronym actually stands for Volunteers in Policing.

Childers has had an impressive cohort of VIPs since the volunteer service was first introduced into the local police station in May 1999.

Officer in Charger of Childers Police Sergeant Geoff Fay said the VIPs are an incredibly valuable resource for police.

“The idea for VIPs originated in the United States and Canada but has successfully transferred to volunteering within the Queensland Police Service.

“Back in 1999 it was my pleasure to welcome the first Childers VIP, Bernard McCarthy, a retired local businessman.

“Bernard had a strong business background and was heavily involved in the local community through organisations like the Chamber of Commerce.”

Childers Police VIPs help with administrative roles

Sergeant Fay said the VIPs had continued over the years with participants undertaking administrative roles that provided sworn officers with additional time to pursue police matters of a higher priority.

“They do not perform dedicated police work and are required to exhibit a high degree of confidentiality when it comes to sensitive and privacy issues.

”Childers currently has two VIPs in Barry Cochrane and well-known local Donna Duncan OAM. Barry attends the station on a Tuesday to perform his volunteer hours while Donna assists police with the regular sitting days at the Childers Courthouse.”

Childers Police volunteers
Volunteer in Policing Barry Cochrane regularly assists the Childers Police Station’s administration officer Celeste Bettridge. Barry volunteers each Tuesday at the station.

Barry Cochrane has been a VIP for more than 11 years with 10 years service with Childers Police.

The position is unpaid and requires participants to undertake a training course.

Community liaison, assisting with vehicle and property security initiatives and customer service are frontline duties for VIPs.

According to Barry, Police appoint VIPs on an “as required” basis.

“Usually it involves someone providing an expression of interest and they can be assessed and called upon if and when positions become available.

“I really enjoy my hours with Childers Police. They are an incredible team of men and women and Geoff would be one of the most inclusive people its been my pleasure to meet,” Barry said.

“The role is varied and I am often utilised when we have events like the Childers Festival and the recent Read To Me Day where a more informal police presence is required.”

Barry said his career in IT as well as a short stint as a prison officer and a more extended period with the RAAF had taken him to different parts of the world and had provided a good background in personal and community relations.

Decades old police records copied

 “One of my first tasks as a VIP was archiving. It involved copying all the old written records which dated back to 1944.

“I would turn up with my chair at the old cells at the back of the old police station – which were chock-a-block with old files – and steadily transferred all that information.

“That took me about 18 months and countless antihistamine tablets to cope with the dust,” Barry laughed.

On a more regular basis Barry assist the station’s administration officer Celeste Bettridge with numerous administration tasks.

“There are things like a local business key register that regularly requires updating. It’s these resources that provide police with the information to contact relevant people if access is required to premises.

“Both my wife and I are keen volunteers. We like the fact that it keeps you in touch with what is happening in your community and you have a sense of worthwhile contribution.”

Barry has no intention of stepping away anytime soon from his Childers Police VIP duties.

He said being able to utilise the skills learned from a working life into retirement years really benefitted not only those receiving the benefit.

“From a personal perspective its rewarding knowing those skills continue to serve a useful purpose.”

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