Historically, members of An Garda Síochana have always been embedded in local communities. The closure of stations and fewer Gardaí during the recession left huge voids right across the county.
Rural communities have felt neglected for a number of years and now at last, Gardaí are going back to their roots and restoring community policing in the county.
Initiatives like the weekly Garda clinic announced in Ballyragget this week and hopes of installing a Community Text Alert Scheme set the tone going forward with regard to Garda members closeness to the local communities around the county.
Close relationships with locals and on the ground policing aids Gardaí in investigating crimes and their endeavour to build up that relationship can only be seen as a positive.
One time, local Gardaí knew everything about their specific areas, they knew the people and the people knew them.
Getting back to that level of community policing will take time, but the efforts being made now augurs well for people living in rural and urban areas across Kilkenny.
To date, approximately 17,000 people in the Carlow/Kilkenny Garda Division have signed up for community alert schemes, which is the second highest take up in the country.
Figures like this show that the willingness is there in Kilkenny amongst locals who aspire to have a closer relationship with An Garda Síochana and who would prefer a greater Garda presence in their area.
Two motorways cut through Kilkenny and we’ve seen how marauding motorway gangs can use this network of roads to target rural and isolated parts of the county.
The Gardaí have been successful in making Kilkenny an inhospitable place for criminals through Operation Thor and others.
It is through these successful operations that trust and confidence will continue and hopefully increase between the Gardaí and residents across Kilkenny. There is no other way.
17,000 text alerts in a county with just over 20,000 residences is a clear indicator of the reliance we have for good policing and confidence in engaging with the Gardaí.