23 May 2024

Police Medal recipient on taking Griffith's top job, 'crime wave' perceptions and the world’s best career

| Oliver Jacques
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Ray Stynes in office

Superintendent Ray Stynes wants to tackle domestic violence. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Murrumbidgee Police District has a new commander – Superintendent Ray Stynes, who is based at the Griffith station.

Originally from Penrith and most recently in Nowra, his 33-year career in the force was honoured on Australia Day this year, when he received the Australian Police Medal for his outstanding commitment to “frontline, proactive and strategic community policing”.

He’s also a diehard Penrith Panthers supporter and fan of Griffith’s Italian food. Region caught up with him to find out about his priorities, career advice, the time he tamed lions and to shed light on the supposed “crime wave” in Griffith and what can be done about it.

According to social media, crime is soaring in Griffith. Truth or perception?

It’s a perception. Crime is low in Griffith. It’s nowhere near the crime we have in other places.

There was a spike last week, but we have arrested and charged a young person with a break and enter and he’s before the courts.

People are used to crime being low, so when there is a spike, it’s out of the ordinary so it gets attention. There’s no crime wave.

What can we do to prevent being broken into?

A lot of the time with the break and enters, people aren’t knocking down doors. They’re going through unlocked doors.

It sounds obvious, but lock all your doors, front and back and your car doors. Don’t leave your keys anywhere easily accessible.

Sensor lights are also good. Any cyber security measure is a good measure. The best deterrent is a dog.

And if someone has already broken in?

Make as much noise as possible and call triple zero. We’ll get there as soon as possible. But if you lock all your doors, you significantly reduce the chances of that happening.

What’s been your first impression of Griffith Police Station?

The culture here is the best I’ve ever experienced. Everyone gets in and helps. It’s second to none. My aim is to maintain this and keep improving. My mantra is people, community and crime – they’re the three things I’m addressing.

The community have been fantastic and have made me feel welcome.

Griffith police have been getting on their bikes recently to connect with residents.

Griffith police have been getting on their bikes recently to connect with residents. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Do you have any priorities?

Domestic and family violence. We will do whatever we can to address it. We have a partnership with Women’s DV Court Advocacy Service who are located with us and ensure victims get the support they need from the get-go.

I’m also focused on staff welfare. If we don’t have the staff, we can’t do our job.

Any notable moments in your 33 years in the force?

There’ve been a few but one thing that always gets mentioned is when lions got out of the park at Warragamba in 1995 and we went to get them back in. I stood at the back of a ute, there were six lions – they’re like sheep once you get the main one moving. We found one in someone’s backyard that had attacked a pet dog.

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What would you say to a Year 12 student considering a police career?

It’s the best job in the world. I love the variety; what I’m doing now is totally different from when I started.

We can offer someone a whole career in the Murrumbidgee – you don’t have to go to the city. We’re not just chasing crooks down the street. You can do criminal investigation, forensics, prosecutions, so many things.

I’d also recommend working in a bar before you join the police academy to learn how to deal with people. I did 12 months at the Penrith RSL.

Is the police academy anything like the movie?

It’s nothing like the movie. I did it in 1992; it’s changed a lot since then, so I can’t say much. They’re still big on fitness. We didn’t have the university attached to it, but they do now.

Will the Panthers win four NRL premierships in a row?

I don’t know about that, it’ll be very tough this year, but I’ll always support them.

Updates and tips on policing can be found on the Murrumbidgee Police District Facebook page.

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