Crime manager moving on

BITTERSWEET DECISION: Griffith crime manager Detective Inspector Paul Smith will start a new role in Broken Hill on Monday.
Nanjing Night Net

SEIZING $22 million worth of cannabis, excavating a property nearHay in search of Donald Mackay and making an arrest in relation to the murder of Stephanie Scott are just a few of the cases Detective Inspector Paul Smith has been involved with in his time at the Griffith local area command.

The 48-year-old is preparing to start a new role in Broken Hill on Monday after six-and-a-half years as crime manager in Griffith.

Detective Inspector Smith was involved in a murder investigation shortly after his arrival in Griffith.

Fruit picker Ranjodh Singh, an Indian national, was stabbed repeatedly and had his face burned.

His body was dumped on a Willbriggie roadside on December 29, 2009.

Detective Inspector Smith said the way the community reacted to the tragedy made him realise he made a good choice when he accepted the role in Griffith.

“The community came together there and certainly assisted with that matter. He was an Indian national and ultimately we ended up charging some people known to him with the murder but there was a lot of tension internationally at that time in relation to Indian nationals but the community here in Griffith, the Indian community and the wider community certainly stuck together and we were very pleased with that.”

Detective Inspector Smith said police always relied on help from community members to ensure justice was served.

“Quite simply, the public hold the key and we need to encourage the public, whether it’s about drugs, property theft or crimes of violence, we need to encourage the public to share that information with their local police, whether it be personally speaking to the police or through Crime Stoppers,” he said.

Information from members of the community was what prompted police to launch an investigation into cannabis cultivation.

“We’ve had some very good wins around the place,” Detective Inspector Smith said.

PILED HIGH: Police in front of a huge clump of marijuana plants in Hanwood in 2011.

The seizure of $22 million worth of cannabis and the subsequent arrests of 20 people in 2011 was one of those.

“At the time it was the biggest seizure in NSW I think 10 or 15 years and certainly around this area for longer,” Inspector Smith said.

Drugs remain an issue in the city, but the number of cannabis seizures had reduced since that bust, Detective Inspector Smith said.

“Certainly the major seizures within the Griffith Local Government Area have decreased since that time so I think there must have been some deterrent that came with it.

“We’re by no means suggesting that we’re on top of the drug trade –we’ve got cannabis, we’ve got amphetamines, we’ve got pharmaceuticals that are all causing our communities issues.

“Ice hasn’t been around for that long that I can remember, however amphetamine in other forms such as speed has long been causing us dramas.”

Detective Inspector Smith said illegal use of prescription drugs was another issue.

“I think we’re certainly going through a patch here in Griffith with prescription medication being sold on or stolen,” Inspector Smith said.

“People under the influence of drugs such as oxycontin or fentanyl is an issue.”

Detective Inspector Smith said the high number of people using drugs was concerning.

“The evidence is out there that it’s not good for your health and not only not good for your health, it’s not good for you as a person, in your career and for your long-term prospects in society,” he said.

“These drugs can ruin your life.”

Detective Inspector Smith said police in the district had to prepare reports for the Coroner on people who had died from a drug overdose.

He said police often had to respond to violent situations, many of which were fuelled by drugs or alcohol.

Detective Inspector Smith issued a warning to motorists driving under the influence of drugs.

“Your chances of being detected now, of being tested for drugs, is just as high as beingtested for alcohol on the road,” Detective InspectorSmith said.

He said alarmingly the last time the drug bus was in Griffith the results were one in five people tested positive for drugs.

Detective Inspector Smith said police had seized a number of illegal firearms recently.

He said police were targeting this issue.

“Obviously firearms are also an issue –we’ve had seizures here in Griffith, Leeton and Narrandera and certainly we welcome any information about illegal firearms,” Detective Inspector Smith said.

“It’s a big issue –you’ve just got to look at gun crime –and the government obviously considers it an issue too with our very recent sentencing procedures with non parole periods being increased for firearms offences.”

Detective Inspector Smith said the search for answers into the disappearance of Donald Mackay continued.

“That investigation has been ongoing and obviously we had our 2013 major excavation at Hay,” he said.

Crime manager moving on Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

Strike Force Fitr search on a property near Hay on June 15, 2013 for the remains of Donald Mackay. Photo: Andrew Meares

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