By TOBY WALKER
CLARENCE VALLEY police officers have not ruled out resorting to industrial action in their fight to retain a permanently based duty officer in the area.
Following Thursday night's Police Association branch meeting, police resolved to request Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command (CCLAC) management to retain a commissioned officer and address a shortage of police in the Lower River.
Police Association (PA) organiser John Villiotis said the union did not lay the blame for staffing shortages at the feet of the CCLAC management and was willing to work with them in a conciliatory fashion.
But he made it clear the PA would not stand by idly if the situation was not improved.
"We think the drain of staff (from the Lower River) in recent years has got to the critical point," he said.
"The staff are unable to perform their duties to the level they feel the community deserves."
Mr Villiotis said the PA was also concerned that inadequate police numbers in Iluka and Yamba had contributed to a breach in the single-unit policy, a policy where police attending potentially dangerous calls required backup.
"We've already had a situation where one of our officers, a single unit, was directed to a job that involved violence.
"Despite asking for backup it was refused and they ended up confronting the offender, engaging in a fight and the offended escaped custody.
"We think that's totally unacceptable."
The CCLAC have been informed of the policy breach and are now investigating the matter.