A well known Katherine Community Patrol officer is hanging up his uniform for good to spend more time with his wife and family after 18 years on the beat.
Originally from Tennant Creek, David Hughes was hired for his different language skills and local knowledge of tribes in the area and beyond.
He quickly worked his way up the ranks to assistant manager.
“If you are someone who can speak the language you can really help and make people feel comfortable,” he said.
“Once that language barrier is broken down, people see us as being there to help.”
In 2000, the 62-year-old arrived in Katherine.
He met his wife Eunice Woods and on deciding to stay was hired by Community Patrol manager Noel McDonald.
“I was looking for someone who was switched on and reliable. We also needed someone who was well known around the region,” Mr McDonald said.
Because I can talk to people in their own language, they feel safer- David Hughes
“Being a Community Patrol officer we take people to a safe place, we often pick up children or take locals home if they want it.
“It is important that we have different ways of communicating with people,” he said.
Mr Hughes is a Warrumunga man who can speak four languages.
He said his language skills had helped him integrate into the community as well as mediate issues that arise in the community.
“Because I can talk to people in their own language, they feel safer,” he said.
“Sometimes we run into problems and we have to mediate disputes.”
Mr McDonald said while the job is important and rewarding it comes with its own set of challenges.
“We don’t have the powers of arrest. There is a feeling around town our job is to lock up but that is not the case.
“All of the transports we do is voluntary meaning that if someone doesn’t want to be taken home we can’t force them,” he said.
Mr Hughes is an active member of the Aboriginal Inland Mission church and on weekends volunteers his time driving the church bus.
“We pick up people from Rockhole, Binjari and around town so they can get to church. We also pick up bread from Brumby’s Bakery to feed people at church,” Mr Hughes said.
Mr Hughes said he is most looking forward to increasing his volunteer work for the church and spending quality time with his family.
“I will miss the team, I have known some of these people for many years and they are good friends.
“I am not running away, I am staying in Katherine to look after my wife and my children,” he said.
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