A Greek beat for the Victorian police
Three serving Greek Australian police officers speak to Neos Kosmos English Edition about the day to day challenges of policing.
An on duty police officer was bashed in the CBD, on August 15, as a result of yet another night of senseless violence in Melbourne.
Three Greek Australian members of the Victoria Police explore the issue of violence, while reflecting on about their experiences in the force.
Inspector Spiros Kalliakmanis, and Sergeant Cally Kwas from the Ethical Standards Department and Leading Senior Constable Elizabeth Sidiropoulos from the Doncaster Police Station are all long-serving members of the Victorian Police.
During their time in the force, they have come face-to-face with challenging and dangerous situations. All three agree that sometimes even the most rigorous of training cannot prepare you for some situations faced by officers.
Yet, they all stress the importance of the support mechanisms that are available in the force which help you trying to deal with the aftermath of these experiences.
“We can’t ever be fully prepared for every situation we come across,” points out Senior Constable Sidiropoulos.
Talking about the attack on the police officer, Inspector Kalliakmanis notes how such an injury on the job can alter your frame of mind. “It’s very detrimental as to how you approach people in the future and how you deal with people.”
An additional form of support for these officers are their colleagues.
“We are like family... I should have retired a long time ago but there is still so much to give, there is still so much to gain,” Sergeant Kwas emphasises.
As the first Greek Australian woman to join Victoria Police in 1981, she should know.
When asked how her family took the news she was forthcoming in revealing her mother’s reaction: “Ti tha pei o kosmos” (What will the people say).
She wasn’t deterred, however, and with time she became a helpful conduit between the Greek community and Victoria Police, building on the ever important trust between the community and law enforcement agencies.
This cooperation between these two entities is what the Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has highlighted numerous times in order for the problem of alcohol-fuelled violence to be managed effectively.
“Nothing is just a policing issue, it’s not just about arrests,” Inspector Kalliakmanis emphasised.
As a community, he clarifies, we all have to come together to talk about the serving of liquor, how many liquor licences there are and how close together outlets serving alcohol are located.
The aspect of the CBD violence being so condensed and more reportable is also probably, according to Inspector Kalliakmanis, a contributing factor to the problem.
But, the importance of the family as the root cause of the problem is something that both Inspector Kalliakmanis and Sergeant Kwas underscore.
“If the child is not connected to a family or a community and out there on their own, they’re undirected, unguided and get up to mischief,” Sergeant Kwas said.
Meanwhile, in dealing with the problem of alcohol-fuelled violence, the family of the injured police officer needs to be considered.
“The trauma that his family is going through... and the fear they will be going through every time he is back on duty,” Insp. Kalliakmanis said.
It is the same fear that drove Senior Constable Sidiropoulos’ father not to talk to her for two months after he found out in 1988 that she wanted to become the second Greek Australian female to join the Victoria Police.
The anger has subsequently been replaced by pride, a feeling which these three police officers share for their Greek heritage.
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