Progress is being made on drugs, domestic violence, says departing police chief

Superintendent James Blandford has farewelled Murray Bridge and the Murray Mallee district.

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The Murraylands’ top cop has bid farewell to the region after six years in the job.

Superintendent James Blandford finished up as the officer in charge of the Murray Mallee local service area on February 26.

It had been a bittersweet feeling to leave Murray Bridge, he said, where so much had been done to make the community a safer place since 2014.

He credited the leadership of Mayor Brenton Lewis, who was elected that year on a platform of making Murray Bridge proud, safe and progressive; and the work done by the council and other agencies.

“It has been my absolute privilege and pleasure to work within the Murray Mallee, and particularly the Murraylands, community,” he said.

“The community should be really proud of itself, of what it can do and what it has done.

“No community is without its challenges – there are always people in need – but ... if we all go out of our way to make a difference in people’s lives, we’ll make a difference.”

Problems such as illicit drugs and domestic violence were still significant in the region, he said.

But progress was being made by the likes of Planet Youth, the Drug and Alcohol Foundation, Headspace and the Good Sports program.

“It’s not going to be a short-term fix,” he said.

“It’s generational change, (training people) to not need illicit substances to get through the day, whether for the rush or to dampen the trauma or the scars in their lives.

“Domestic violence is the same ... it’s about asking people to understand and step up to the obligations of respect.

“People aren’t chattels, they aren’t slaves or subject to control and servitude; people are there to be respected and loved.

“It’s going to take a while for that message to get through.”

He encouraged everyone to get involved in local efforts to make the community a better place.

Superintendent Blandford departed after being named the head of SA Police’s public protection branch, which deals with domestic violence, sex crimes and similar matters across the state.