Individual winner
 
The WA outback town of Warmun is small – the 2016 Census recorded its population at 366 people – but the changes one of our members has implemented there are big and earned him recognition as the 2021 Nine News WA Police Excellence Awards individual category winner. 
 
Sergeant Jesse Bill, who’s been policing in the remote community for two years, was recently acknowledged for his service and dedication to enhancing rapport between the WA Police Force and local residents.
 
A WA Police Force officer for a quarter of a century, Sgt Bill is no stranger to regional policing, having served in the Goldfields, 
 
Pilbara and Kimberley areas, as well as several metropolitan districts and detective offices.
 
Sgt Bill and the station’s officer in charge, Brevet Senior Sergeant Phil Cartledge, operate the Warmun Multi-Functional Police Facility (MFPF), which is located 3,000 kilometres northeast of Perth. The MFPF covers not only Warmun but also many smaller communities, including Bow River, Crocodile Hole, Doon Doon, Frog Hollow, Glen Hill and Wuggabun.
 
Also housed at the MFPF is a child protection and family support officer with whom Sgt Bill and Brevet Snr Sgt Cartledge work closely.
 
Both of our Warmun-based members are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Like all officers working in remote communities, theirs are tough gigs, but gigs that are rewarding.
 
Sgt Bill told Police News that Warmun had a great support network, from the local and surrounding school teachers to the Aboriginal Elders, which helped alleviate some of the pressure on him and his colleagues.
 
His first impressions of the town were what sparked ideas of how he could build bridges with community members and make a positive impact.
 
“Almost immediately after arriving in Warmun, I recognised many residents didn’t have meaningful employment, which led to financial strain, boredom and the associated policing issues,” said Sgt Bill.
 
Through speaking with several Elders, Sgt Bill discovered many residents couldn’t get a job because they didn’t hold a driver licence.
 
“Many residents struggled with the basics, things we take for granted, like reading and writing, and were unable to provide sufficient identity documents to commence the licensing process,” said Sgt Bill.
 
“This was something I identified we could overcome if we worked together, so us police officers in Warmun built trust in the community and showed its residents what they could achieve when they believed in themselves.
 
“As an agent for the Department of Transport, I simplified the process for our local people. I remember the first person who came into the police station to take his driver licence test; he passed and then told everyone in the community. From there it snowballed. Now many residents have obtained not only driver licences but also full-time jobs.”
 
Sgt Bill said effective communication was essential in his role. 
 
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“It’s the key. You must build trust and rapport with everyone, not only the community but also agencies, so everyone’s on the same page and working towards the same outcome,” said Sgt Bill.
 
“You have to be welcome on country, so you can live and work safely in the community. Take an interest in the local culture, history and beliefs. Show respect. Be honest. Encourage all to do better. Be firm but always fair. 
 
“As a police officer working in a community, you’re a role model.”
 
Sgt Bill told Police News gaining acceptance in the community was the biggest challenge he faced on arriving in Warmun two years ago.
 
“You’re the new police officer in town. The locals had finally got to know the previous officer, and then they transferred out to another posting. You have to continue their great work while policing in your own way and obtaining acceptance from the community,” said Sgt Bill.
 
“It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to gain trust. I guess I’m a little fortunate because my wife, Mel, is Aboriginal and knew the challenges.
 
“Mel and I have formed wonderful relationships in Warmun. We’re the godparents of a local girl, something of which we feel extremely proud.”
Sgt Bill said the 2021 Nine News WA Police Excellence Awards prize was the greatest individual accomplishment of his policing career.
 
“This honour is the biggest thing that’s happened to me in the job so far and something that’s really out of my comfort zone,” said Sgt Bill.
 
“I’ve had some tremendous support from many colleagues, friends, relatives and members of the wider public, not only while working in Warmun but also throughout my 25-year policing career. 
 
Without that tremendous support, I don’t think I would’ve received this award.”
 
Sgt Bill told Police News the nomination came as a shock, but he appreciated the recognition for him and the other individual category finalists, Sergeant Andy Galbraith and Senior Constable Nathan Smith.
 
“I was really surprised at being nominated in the first place. Like most police officers, I go to work because I enjoy what I do, and I want to make a difference. I don’t go to work to win awards,” said Sgt Bill.
 
“I was somewhat embarrassed when I was announced as the award winner because I know and I’ve worked alongside the other finalists, and I know what terrific work they do in their respective communities.”
 
Sgt Bill has a simple, succinct message for men and women of all ages who aspire to become officers in the WA Police Force: go for it.
 
“It’s a job that’s challenging at times but also rewarding. There’s never a dull moment. You don’t know what each day is going to bring. You get to work in some amazing places throughout WA, meet all kinds of wonderful people and make lifelong friendships along the way,” said Sgt Bill.
 
Recently promoted to the rank of sergeant, Sgt Bill is leaving Warmun to become the Community and Youth Engagement Coordinator in Midland.
 
Northampton Police Station pipped Fitzroy Crossing Police Station and the Armadale Multi-Agency Investigation and Support Team’s Child Abuse Squad to the 2021 Nine News WA Police Excellence Awards team prize.
 
The 2021 Nine News WA Police Excellence Awards judges honoured the Northampton Police Station team for their cohesive work in keeping local residents safe in challenging circumstances. 
 
When Severe Tropical Cyclone Seroja made landfall in April, officers immediately sprang into action, establishing a command post at Northampton Police Station to ensure the community understood the threat.
 
Together, they built a culture of support, safety and security during a time of disaster.
 
 
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