Joining forces - proactive policing at HMAS Cerberus

Published on PONPC Erin Coates (author and photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Cerberus

Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Michael Cross conducting Random Breath Testing, at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria. (photo: PO Erin Coats)
Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Michael Cross conducting Random Breath Testing, at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

The HMAS Cerberus Naval Police Coxswains Office has been making moves toward proactive policing and has joined forces with specialist policing agencies to help steer the right course for education, awareness and prevention. Their motto: ‘Proactive, not Reactive Policing’.
 
In May 2014, Cerberus hosted the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services and their narcotic detection dogs. The visit was a huge success, allowing the coxswains to remind Navy’s new recruits, trainees staff at the Royal Australian Navy Recruit School and Cerberus of the Australian Defence Force’s zero tolerance drug policy. No illegal drugs were detected by the narcotic detection dogs.

(l-r) Customs Officer Dave Breslin and DD (Detector Dog) Lang, Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Grieg Murray, Warrant Officer Naval Police Coxswain Graeme Meadowcroft and Customs Officer  Luke Fleury and DD Horton.

(l-r) Customs Officer Dave Breslin and DD (Detector Dog) Lang, Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Grieg Murray, Warrant Officer Naval Police Coxswain Graeme Meadowcroft and Customs Officer Luke Fleury and DD Horton.


Using the narcotic detection dogs allowed the coxswains to be highly visible while bringing the message home and showing the team from the Border Protection Services that Navy means business.
    
Most people assume the Naval Police Coxswains Office at Cerberus must be one of the busiest in Australia. As Cerberus is Navy’s largest training establishment, with more than 2,500 people located there at any time, the Cerberus coxswains team would say that assumption is true, but not for the reasons most would think.
 
A review of figures shows that during 2013-2014 there has been a marked decline in disciplinary incidents at the establishment, and the Naval Police Coxswains Office attributes this success to their efforts involving proactive policing activities that educate and reinforce Navy’s core values and messages.
 
While not quite the same as the popular TV series, NCIS, Warrant Officer Naval Police Coxswain Graeme Meadowcroft insists the job of a coxswain is not limited to boring mobile and foot patrols of the establishment.
 
Cerberus has some unique challenges for a Naval Police Coxswain. You have to understand that a lot of what you deal with is a result of new people making mistakes while they’re adjusting to life in the Navy. Most actions aren’t malicious, they just don’t understand how serious Navy is compared to where they’ve come from; high school, university, jobs in the private sector. It’s a shock for most to be reminded that we mean business,” Warrant Officer Meadowcroft said.

(l-r) Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Justin Pantich, Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Grieg Murray, Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Nicole Walker, Warrant Officer Naval Police Coxswain Graeme Meadowcroft, Customs Officers Dave Breslin, Luke Boyle and Stephen Handley.

(l-r) Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Justin Pantich, Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Grieg Murray, Leading Seaman Naval Police Coxswain Nicole Walker, Warrant Officer Naval Police Coxswain Graeme Meadowcroft, Customs Officers Dave Breslin, Luke Boyle and Stephen Handley.


The Cerberus coxswains are determined to keep reminders fresh in every Australian Defence Force members mind using a variety of strategies, from using LED sign messages on the entry and exits points to the base, to working in conjunction with the local Hastings Police to conduct Random Breath Testing of all motorists entering the base.
 
“While holding such a large scale operation inconvenienced some motorists, the results were impressive and ultimately ensured that Cerberus is a safe place for all road users and importantly, all our marching squads,” Warrant Officer Meadowcroft said.
 
No Navy personnel have blown a positive result during any of the recent random breath testing programs, which shows that the base has made great headway in the right direction.
 
Proactively policing has made Cerberus a safer place and it’s showing all Australian Defence Force members that Navy is serious about discipline. If taking Navy’s discipline seriously and helping to enforce that message appeals to you, then becoming a Naval Police Coxswain may just be the right move for you.