Ian Stewart is the original crime fighter
SOME would argue he has the toughest job in Queensland.
Others would argue he is merely a mouthpiece for a State Government hell-bent on cracking down on crime.
Either way, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said it was an honour and privilege to help ensure the 4.6 million people living in Queensland remained safe at all times.
Mr Stewart, who is originally from Toowoomba, was appointed to the top job on November 1, 2012, after playing an important, and very visible role, during the 2011 summer of disasters.
At the time, he was not the favourite to take the top job, but over the past year his four decades of policing experience has started to shine through.
"It has been one of the most fulfilling times of my career," he said.
"I thoroughly enjoy waking up each day and going to work. It is a privilege to lead such a great team in what is such a great state.
"I am a very proud commissioner."
One of the first orders of business after his appointment was to reduce the number of policing regions across the state, into a more streamlined operation.
As a result, the state's eight police regions were reduced to five, and districts reduced from 31 to 15.
Up to 110 commissioned officers and about 200 other staff were offered redundancies, a decision that did not prove popular at the time, especially in regional areas.
"We certainly had challenges in reducing the regions and districts," he said.
"It was all about getting more officers into frontline duties.
"Officers right across the state all face the same challenges.
"The tyranny of distance has always been a challenge for regional officers. However, the type of isolation that existed 40 years ago does not exist today."
Mr Stewart said one of the major changes the police service is currently undertaking was the way it interacted with the community, something, by its own admission, it has not done effectively in the past.
"Technology has changed the way we interact both internally and externally," he said.
"Today it is all about Facebook, Twitter, online, blogs and social media.
"We are leveraging all those methods of communication to ensure we stay connected with the community.
"But people will always have the option of walking through the front door of their local police station."
Mr Stewart said policing had changed dramatically over the years since he first became an officer.
"The world itself has changed dramatically over the past four decades," he said.
"We live in a 24/7 world these days, and the community expects us to be a 24/7 service.
"Forty years ago there was a significant respect for authority.
"Nowadays we have to work extremely hard to gain that respect.
"I personally believe there has been a loss of respect in our community over the past two decades."
Mr Stewart said he believed the threat posed by criminal motorcycle gang members was real, and not just rhetoric from a State Government looking towards the next election.
"What would appease Queenslanders is the police effort in tackling criminal motorcycle gangs has been state-wide," he said.
"The threat has not been as problematic in regional areas, but places like Mackay, Toowoomba, Rockhampton and Gladstone all still have criminal motorcycle gangs.
"It is not a problem just confined to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
"What we see in regional areas is more people associating with, not necessarily members of, criminal motorcycle gangs."
Mr Stewart said, despite media reports to the contrary, he had a good working relationship with the State Government, as well as the Qld Police Union, and maintained his door was always open to them.
"I believe there always needs to be a level of separation between the government and the police force.
"But, at the end of the day, the government of the day outlines its priorities and it is my role to implement those priorities to the best of my ability," he said.
"I think I have a good professional relationship with Ian Leavers (Qld Police Union president) as well as the other unions.
"I think it is a healthy relationship, and I am always open to new and innovative ideas they may have."
Despite the bikie crackdown, Mr Stewart said one of his greatest concerns was the number of people who were killed on the state's roads each year, and the rising level of drug- and alcohol-related violence seen on streets across the state on a daily basis.
"I think it is a very sad reflection on our society, that we think it's acceptable 300 Queenslanders will die on our roads each year," he said.
"The area that really worries me is drugs and violence. We are doing everything to reduce those types of crimes.
"Even though we are dealing with a specific group at the moment, the reality is we are also dealing with our core business.
"That has not, and will not, stop."