Date Published : April 30th, 2013 Published By : adminCommunity at the heart of Policing in Waterford
The wailing of sirens, the bashing of batons off protective shields and the occasional revving of Garda motorbikes were the work of the hundreds of excited young children who visited Waterford Garda Station for its 2nd annual Community Policing Open Day at Ballybricken, Waterford on bank holiday Monday 6th May.
Joining the Waterford Community Policing unit on the day were various other Garda services such as the Regional Armed Support Unit, the Mountain unit, Public Order unit, Traffic Corps, Dog unit and the Garda Command and Control Unit. Members were also on hand for face painting duties and some young people also got to wear the garda uniforms on the day.
Garda Sergeant Gavin Hegarty spoke to Emergencytimes.ie and explained the background to the Community Open day. “Last year Waterford, along with a number of other stations opened up to the public, and it was such a success here last year that we felt it would be a shame not to do it again this year. We have tried to being as broad a range of Garda and support services as possible so the public can see what we do behind the scenes and on the street”
Sgt. Hegarty has been involved in Community Policing since his days in the Bridewell, and brought his experience and commitment with him to Waterford. He has always found it to be very beneficial to the community; to both the people they serve in the community and An Garda Síochána.
As dozens of children emerged from the Garda road safety stand, they donned their high viz vest and waited in line to have their face painted by Garda Joanne O’ Mahony, while opposite that, Garda Mary Murphy was engaging with teenagers and assisting them in becoming ‘Garda for a Day’ by wearing the Garda uniforms.
The Garda Mountain and Dog Units and the Waterford City River Rescue boat and crew were a big attraction for the visitors. Garda John O’ Sullivan explained the protective gear and equipment used by the Public Order Unit while Garda Claire O’ Sullivan demonstrated by force, the bashing and impact which some Gardai in the unit might come under during an incident.
The Command and Control Unit which attended on the day is no stranger to Waterford as it has also been utilised during the Tall Ship festivals and other major events in Waterford City. Sergeant Hegarty says the Community Policing Unit in any area is vital to the community. “We work for and on behalf of the people, it’s the people who demand and drive our services, it’s that commitment and engagement we have with the community through areas such as the Junior Liaison Programme, the Neighbourhood watch etc, and all of this forms the link between us and the community, and that link is absolutely vital and it would be a sad day if it is ever lost, because it is through that that we gain intelligence and information, and we get to know the people we serve, and that’s what Community Policing is all about”.