South West welcomes new top cop

Returning home: South West superintendent Geoff Stewart sat down with the Bunbury Mail to discuss his new role. Photo: Jesinta Burton.
Returning home: South West superintendent Geoff Stewart sat down with the Bunbury Mail to discuss his new role. Photo: Jesinta Burton.

After more than four decades of policing across Western Australia, district superintendent Geoff Stewart says taking on his new role in the South West feels a lot like coming home.

Superintendent Stewart grew up in Nollamara, north of Perth, and joined the WA Police Force as a cadet at just 16-years-old.

Between 1978 and 1988, superintendent Stewart worked in ballistics and weapons training before serving in the VIP area, tasked with looking after Pope Paul and the royal family during their visit to WA in 1986.

After establishing a family, the father-of-four said he moved into country policing and didn't look back.

Since then, superintendent Stewart has served across the South West, the Pilbara, the Mid West and the Kimberley and has joined the board for WA Police Legacy.

Even after almost 42 years as an officer, superintendent Stewart said he wouldn't want to do anything else and that working in tight-knit regional communities was highly rewarding.

"I feel sorry for everyone that doesn't wear a blue shirt because this really is the best job in the world," he said.

"It's just so satisfying, and perhaps that's because the bulk of my career has been spent in the regions.

"I've been in areas where it is all about police and the community working together.

"Without taking anything away from my metropolitan counterparts, working in regional areas is so much better. You're just so closely connected.

"I wouldn't do anything else.

"I see young people downstairs that were just like me, working in regional areas because they want to be there. They want to be there because their families want to be there."

The new South West superintendent said that his decades of experience in the field had emphasised the importance of a strong relationship between the community and local police.

Moving forward, superintendent Stewart said his approach in the South West would remain the same - making sure that officers fostered strong bonds to the community they serve and were equipped to deal with the issues at hand.

"The South West is going OK in terms of our crime in most areas, however, there are some areas that are more challenging," he said.

"The only way to meet those challenges is by the community supporting us in fighting that.

"I'm all about community engagement and fostering those relationships, and I expect all of my people [officers] to have that.

"I see people say on social media 'why isn't somebody doing something about that?' - you're 'somebody'.

"If we all take ownership of what is happening within the community, in terms of law and order, it just makes our job so much easier.

"When I've been here in the past, a lot of the issues have been around illicit drugs and traffic.

"I'm most focused on making sure that my people have the capability to respond and deal with what they need to deal with and that they're as passionate as I am about the job at hand."

Although the district is relatively small geographically, superintendent Stewart said it remained one of the busiest outside the metropolitan area.

With visitors flocking to the region all year round, and Busselton now the regional event capital of WA, he said his main focus would be on road safety and remaining prepared, whether it be a planned event, unplanned event or an emergency situation.

Despite having worked across WA, superintendent Stewart said his family had remained based in the South West.

Although he always made time to visit them on the weekends, superintendent Stewart said he was looking forward to living and working in the South West and being a full-time dad and husband again.

"I think what I'm most looking forward to is being with my family," he said.

"My family remained in the South West and I would go away and come home and visit on the weekend.

"I'm absolutely blessed to have a family, particularly a wife, that is totally supportive of what I do."

The self-confessed West Coast Eagles fanatic had a message for local Fremantle Dockers supporters, too.

"I am a mad West Coast Eagles supporter," he said.

"I don't like the Dockers at all.

"Only two good things come out of Fremantle - the Canning Highway and the Stirling Highway."

If you witness something you believe to be suspicious, contact Bunbury Police on (08) 9722 2111.