This photo is the only time I saw any overt police presence the whole four days I was at the 24th annual National HOG Rally in Tamworth at the weekend.
It is a single patrol car leading the Thunder Run of more than 1500 bikes through the streets of Tamworth and surrounding countryside. SES and volunteers manned the rest of the route.
It is a far cry from the overt Victorian police presence and claimed harassment of riders going to and from the MotoGP and World Superbikes at Phillip Island; a practice that could endanger the future of these events in Victoria.
The Victorian police can certainly learn a good lesson from the police who patrolled the HOG Rally.
There were no roadblocks for licence checks and random breath tests, no proliferation of speed cameras, no heavily armed police wandering around the grounds of the event.
The only times I saw police cars were patrolling around the streets and there weren’t many, even though the town had a sudden influx of 2320 Harley riders.
The result was there was no animosity, the HOGs were allowed to party responsibly, there were no burnouts in the main street, no ridiculous speeding and no violence or disturbances. I couldn’t be everywhere at the rally, but I didn’t witness nor hear of any reports of police harassment.
As a consequence, the rally-goers may not necessarily have a greater respect for police, but at least it hasn’t been further eroded.
The Tamworth Northern Daily Leader reports no disturbances and an economic benefit to the good citizens of more than $1 million; a very conservative estimate!
Police around Australia have a lot of ground to make up to regain the respect and confidence we had in them back in the 1980s when Crime Stoppers was a major tool for stopping crime!
Since those days, we’ve had the Fitzgerald and other police corruption inquiries, a rise in police shootings, VLAD laws, a reduction in general police patrols, a reliance on speed cameras for revenue and a rise in police harassment of riders.
There is a long way ahead for police to regain public confidence, particularly of riders.
Measured policing such as that displayed in Tamworth last weekend is a small first step.