• Mirrabooka police officers in 'Behind the Blue Line'. (SBS)
‘Behind the Blue Line’ goes inside the Mirrabooka Police Station.
By
Gavin Scott

8 Jun 2018 - 3:54 PM  UPDATED 14 Jun 2018 - 12:27 PM

The Perth suburb of Mirrabooka is one of the most multicultural places in Australia. As such, its local police station has made a conscious effort to recruit officers that reflect the diverse nature of its citizens in order to better represent them. In Behind the Blue Line, the latest instalment of SBS documentary series, Untold Australia, we go inside the workings of the Mirrabooka Police Station and meet some of the officers putting their lives on the line each day.

From the African-born newbie who says people that share his heritage are glad to see him in uniform, to the Muslim senior officer who is the only policewoman in the state to wear a hijab, these cops really are representative of their community. Behind the Blue Line tells their stories and shows their day-to-day experiences. Here are some of the officers you’ll meet:

Acting Sergeant Zen Mohamad Kassim

The first Western Australian officer to wear a hijab, Zen Kassim is part of the Multicultural Unit, which concentrates on new and emerging communities in the area. She previously worked as a detective for 18 years in Singapore.

 

What is the hardest part of your job?

The feeling of “I don’t know whether I’ll return home” the moment I step out of my house to go to work, because I can’t predict the personality of any member of public I will come across and what will be the outcome of every situation I will be in. Building bridges and trust with different communities is also very challenging because of their personal experiences with the authorities, whether in their home country, in refugee camps or locally.

 

What is the most rewarding thing you've experienced while on the job?

The feeling of satisfaction whenever I witness smiles on the faces of either victims, perpetrators or community members.

 

Senior Constable Jamie Thomson

He might have been working as a cop in Mirrabooka for over two decades, but the former cabinet maker isn’t stuck in his ways. Well aware of the need to adapt to the changing times and the evolving nature of their community, Senior Constable Thomson is the perfect officer to team up with the latest recruits.

 

What is the hardest part of your job?

Dealing with trauma, especially with young children when they are victims.

 

What is the most rewarding thing you've experienced while on the job?

Successful land searches. When you find missing kids alive and reunite them with family, it’s very rewarding.

 

Constable Paul Mbedi

We meet this new recruit in his fourth week on patrol, when he’s teamed up with Senior Constable Thomson. Born in the Congo, Constable Mbedi came to Australia as a refugee and has been stationed in Mirrabooka due to his background.

 

What is the hardest part of your job?

Seeing vulnerable members of the community, such as children, and mentally impaired and drug-affected people, exposed to neglect and abuse. Having limited ability and resources to assist them.

 

What is the most rewarding thing you've experienced while on the job?

Building relationships with the vulnerable youths and seeing the positive effects that it has on them.

 

Sergeant Stuart Kerr

This former British cop says he “hates predictability”, and came to Australia two years ago for new experiences in life and policing. Sergeant Kerr focuses on drug offences in his day-to-day work.

 

What is the most rewarding thing you've experienced while on the job?

The people I work with, from the customer support personnel at the counter to the auxiliaries at the lock-up to the teams working at the station. For me, it is rewarding when everyone helps each other out. We are a team of people from many different backgrounds and life experiences, all coming together and working towards a common goal.

 

Constable Jane Smith

Another officer straight out of the academy, the Kenyan-born constable immigrated to Australia a decade ago. Smith says she’d always wanted to join the police, but “didn’t think it was possible because she’d never seen any African police”. We follow her first day on the job and the impact seeing her in uniform has on people who share her heritage.

 

What is the hardest part of your job?

Being a person of colour and female, I get mixed reactions from people. Most of the people we deal with haven’t seen people of colour in the job, and it’s been a challenge to try and break through to those kinds of people.

 

What is the most rewarding thing you've experienced while on the job?

I have been in situations where I have used my background to speak to people and resolve a problem. We were going to a job and there was an accident, a drink driver had crushed his car at a roundabout. He would not listen to anyone and called people around him names, but when I asked him his name, I was able to connect with him by speaking in his local language and he calmed down. It was a good result.

 

Watch Behind the Blue Line at SBS On Demand.


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