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United by grief

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United by grief, leaders of 26 community groups gathered last Monday at the Lucindale Police Station.

Their highly respected police officer Brevet Sgt Jason Doig had gone to a job 120 kms away, and never returned.

In the wake of Sgt Doig being fatally shot on November 16, Lucindale Neighbourhood Watch, Rural Watch and Blue Light chairman Geoff Smith, called community leaders together.

Flowers, messages, and a child’s picture had filled Sgt Doig’s front porch as the group reflected on his 15 years at Lucindale.

“Jason came to the town as most officers do, wielding a big stick and laying down the law,” Mr Smith said.

But soon there was a mutual respect – the community understood Sgt Doig would keep them safe, “and Jason realised people here were generally law abiding”.

Sgt Doig immediately became secretary of the Rural Watch and Blue Light committees¸ organising bus trips with parents for Blue Light kids to many events in the South East, including movies and paintballing.

“The Rural Watch purchased a breathalyzer unit to be shared by the sporting clubs in the district,” Mr Smith said.

Sometimes people wanted to drive home after having too much to drink. “Jason was always happy to take them before they got in their car”.

“Jason also collated the Lucindale Rural Watch Directory and was passionate about involving the community to be vigilant.

“He enlightened us at meetings of his arrests and night vigils around the district.

“Jason moved (and the committee agreed) that excess funds raised from the directory sales were donated to the local RSL.”

Sgt Doig soon got involved with many other community groups and sporting clubs, as well as fulfilling his duties with the local CFS and Ambulance.

Mr Smith reflected on Sgt Doig’s work in the community – from talks to students, to being one of 10 lifeguards at the community pool.

“Jason was an excellent photographer, taking action shots at many sporting events and often used his barista skills on visitors and neighboring businesses,” Mr Smith said.

“The SA Police Force and the Lucindale area have lost an officer who loved his job, and a man who put his heart and soul into the district, in a circumstance that has left us numb, angry, and sad.

“It only reinforces the respect we have for the men and women in blue, especially, at times, putting their lives on the line to protect our society. “

Janelle Edwards of Lucindale SA Ambulance said volunteers were very appreciative of Sgt Doig. “We were always pleased when he was there. We felt safe, particularly in cases with challenging behaviour,” she said.

Lucindale CFS deputy Group Officer Nick Edwards said Sgt Doig “worked hand in hand with us really well”.

“He didn’t particularly like fires, but as a police officer he was always there when he needed to be. He was supportive and a good support for us,” Mr Edwards said.

Lucindale Lions Club president and Yakka Wakker B&S chairman Robert Crosby recalled the night he knocked on Sgt Doig’s door at 1am for him to come over and sort out a brawl.

“He came and sorted that out in no time. He always did,” Mr Crosby said.

“Jason didn’t like the B&S event when it first started, but he warmed up to them and was taking selfies with all the patrons at the last one.”

Taking in Tennis and Golf, Lucindale Country Club president Peter Stock said because of the nature of Sgt Doig’s death, “our townspeople are taking a long time to process it”.

Mr Stock said Sgt Doig touched everybody in some way. “(Jason) knew everybody’s name. I guess it’s not that hard in a small town, but he made it his business (to know),” Mr Stock said.

Lucindale Cricket Club president Daniel McCarthy recalled Sgt Doig going to the cricket club on Thursday nights with his dog, Max.

“But we called him Duke because he was a big dog and always looked down on us and was very fussy with what he was getting fed under the table, much to Jason’s disgust I think,” Mr McCarthy said.

“Jason always would pop over and Saturdays when he wasn’t working he’d drop in and have a barbecue with us, or cook the barbie. It is shocking that this has happened.”

Friday November 17, was the Lucindale Football Club’s 2023 sponsors night, and people turned out in force to also grieve for their local police officer.

Both Lucindale and Robe cricket clubs wore black arm bands the following day for Sgt Doig was a member of both communities.

Football club president Sam Graetz said: “Jason would come in (to the club) every Thursday night for a feed, and if he had his gear (uniform) on, you knew exactly where you stood.”

Mr Graetz said his death was unexpected and the nature of it was something “none of us have ever dealt with before”.

Lucindale Lycra and Lucindale Triathlon Club founder and president Brett Snodgrass said Jason became “a very keen member who enjoyed conveying his wisdom to others who were getting into triathlon”.

“Jason was a capable swimmer and enjoyed challenging himself on our training rides of 140-180km,” Mr Snodgrass said.

“A regular rider, we all enjoyed listening to his perspective, which allowed him to talk about his daily life and stresses, as we all did as a group.

“He was a great bloke.”

Mark Rivett of Lucindale Lycra and volleyball said Sgt Doig was a great member of our whole community. “We will miss him, that’s for sure.”

Lucindale Linc chairman and Lifeguard representative Louise Stock said: “We are grateful for what Jason did around the community and how he contributed.

“The nature of how he died is a real shock and it will take us a long time to process. The community policing role that he played in the background is really important for a community like this, and as a prevention for small things becoming bigger.”

Lucindale Post Office owner Geoff Robinson said Sgt Doig “nipped in the bud” any trouble very quickly and supported a lot of police outside of his station. “He still policed the Lucindale community and district, but he also supported all the others. It’s just a devastating loss.”

Lucindale Go-Karts and Naracoorte Lucindale Councillor Trevor Rayner said Sgt Doig spent a lot of time talking to people, warning and helping people “rather than just pinching them, and I think that is why he earned the respect that he had from everyone.”

Naracoorte Community News 29 November 2023

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

Related story: Fatal shooting

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