THE new top cop for New England has hit the ground running and he's a familiar face to half of the police district.
Superintendent Steve Laksa will lead charge of the command which boasts more than 20 police stations, in excess of 230 staff, covering towns like Armidale, Inverell, Tenterfield, Glen Innes, Mungindi, Moree, Uralla, Boggabilla, Bingara and Warialda.
It's no small feat, but Superintendent Laksa is no stranger. He used to call Moree home 10 years ago when he was the crime manager for the Barwon command.
He left Moree in February 2013 after three years in the role, moving to be a staff officer for the deputy commissioner, and then onto the crime manager's role at Newcastle for four years - a job which will serve him well in COVID-safe restriction enforcement and policing.
There, licensing was his "bread and butter" because of the alcohol and lock out restrictions for pubs and clubs. For the last couple of years he's been based out of Gosford as a crime manager.
"So it's a journey and now I'm back ... I'm excited," he said.
"I feel comforted by the fact that I've spent a couple of years at Moree and got a connection with Moree and Mungindi and Boggabilla, Warialda and those stations, and now I get to learn the Armidale side and be based at Armidale."
He's got family in Moree and has just purchased a house in Armidale. For the first five weeks he'll be based out of Moree as he meets the troops and gets a handle on that side of the command, before tackling the Northern Tablelands side.
"I was in a drug squad for a couple of years and I don't tolerate drugs, that has a massive social impact on the community," he said.
"I think if you can get rid of a lot of drug crime you can get rid of other crime."
He's got a strong stance, too, on domestic violence.
I think if you can get rid of a lot of drug crime you can get rid of other crime.Superintendent Steve Laksa
"I think with domestic violence, if someone is assaulting their wife then they're more than likely committing other offences - drugs, traffic, robbery, break and enters; they're not usually good people that assault their wives and their family members," he said.
"I think if we stay on top of that you end up keeping on top of a lot of crime categories like property and violence which is break and enters, steal from motor vehicles, stolen motor vehicles, ticks the boxes from all of those."
Superintendent Laksa's spent half his career in general duties before moving into detectives where criminal investigation has been his specialty. A little different to his predecessor Scott Tanner who spent every year of his career on the frontline in GDs.
"I think we complement each other," he said.
"Because a commander can be here for a couple of years and really stabilise that frontline operation of policing and then another commander can come in and go ok, 'we've got that nailed lets now start knocking doors in and doing search warrants', and I think you've got to get the fundamentals right and then you can look at whatever opportunities present themselves.
"I think if you've got operational duties nailed then you can really look for other opportunities whether that is child protection registers, ensuring that people who are arrested that we're taking their DNA."
He said driving down serious crime was important.
"It's about identifying high risk offenders, you'll find they cause the greatest grief for the community," he said.
Superintendent Laksa admits the extra job of enforcing COVID restrictions and regulations is an added task for police, but crime in general has fallen since the virus crisis unravelled.
"It's about managing the growing workload; crime is sort of reducing so we do have an opportunity at the moment to look at where we're deploying those resources, where they're based," he said.
"So the resources that were used dealing with crime is now being used dealing with that different criminogenic issue and that's dealing with that social issue and trying to protect the community."
He just finished four months at the state intelligence branch and is keen to ensure the command has the best of the best in technology and resources on the frontline.
"It's about working with the community but if you have to take action, then you have to take action," he said.