EXCLUSIVE: Crash tackle cop takes run at council
A DEDICATED detective who shot to fame cutting down a serial pest as the cameras were rolling has revealed his next plan is to tackle council.
Sunshine Coast Criminal Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Daren Edwards has confirmed he'll contest the seat of Division 9 in the Sunshine Coast Council elections in March next year.
A veteran of 34 years' policing, having started out in the Northern Territory, he spent two years undercover for the National Crime Authority.
Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards also worked in State Homicide and Ethical Standards, before taking charge on the Coast.
He said he'd been contemplating a bid to enter council for a couple years.
"I've always been interested," he said.
He said he felt suited for the role, as his career had been spent serving the community, while also being under the microscope.
"My whole career has been subject to scrutiny by the community," he said.
"I get RTI'd all the time."
He said he'd tried to go the other way, and be more open, throughout his career, to provide information wherever possible, rather than present a closed door and force people down other avenues of access.
Sen Sgt Edwards said he was aware of the issues in the division, having spent a long time in the area.
The Mount Coolum resident said he supported the idea of live streaming council meetings, as it enabled those who couldn't get to meetings the chance to see local democracy in action and make more informed decisions and opinions.
He felt more explanation could be given to the community about why it was necessary to enter into confidential sessions at times, and when it came to decisions like renewing CEO Michael Whittaker's contract.
Congestion and overdevelopment were two issues he vowed to face, along with greater transparency in decision making.
"Throughout my career I've led large, diverse teams and had to take responsibility for making tough decisions. I am not afraid to stand up for the local community to ensure their best interests are being served," he said.
"My experience has taught me the importance of listening, and many residents feel like their voices aren't being heard. Residents are concerned about congestion, about liveability, and about greater transparency in council decision making."
He said he'd had to manage budgets throughout his policing career, and undertaken extensive leadership and management training, including an advanced diploma.
He said he was acutely aware of the need not to stop progress in the region, as it would threaten the futures of thousands of tradespeople.
He spent years working as a tradie, in plastering and tiling, before entering the police service.
"I've got a real respect (for tradies)," he said.
"To me, you've got to find the balance."
He said he hoped to work with the community to ensure future developments weighed up the needs of residents and the need for the region to thrive economically.
"One of my priorities is to ensure the lifestyle we all enjoy here on the Coast is maintained, and growth managed in a sustainable way," Sen Sgt Edwards said.
He said some of the progress may have been a bit too big and fast for what some of the region was used to.
He said one example was parking, and the importance of ensuring enough was provided in future developments, to minimise the effect on the community.
Sen Sgt Edwards said he was keen to hear from the communities of Division 9, and one issue he was keen to throw his support behind was for CCTV in Tickle Park and the Coolum shopping precinct.
He said it would help provide security, and a deterrent to crime in the area.
"That's something I'll 100 per cent get behind," he said.
Living in the area with his long-time partner who worked with indigenous communities, and as a father to two adult daughters, he said women had been a big influence on him.
He was recognised last year with a Queensland Women in Policing Champion of Change award for his work helping to empower women in the police service.
Sen Sgt Edwards was also a member of the Sexual Assault Response Network and met regularly with young men to try and address behaviours and prevent future assaults through education.
"I see it as an investment," he said.
And as for the round-the-ankles tackle captured on TV cameras which brought down serial pest Laszlo Fekete, Sen Sgt Edwards said it was how he'd approached his career.
"What would people think … if I'd just stood there and let him run past?" he said.
"You've got to go and have a go."