More police as Wairoa goes 24/7

More police as Wairoa goes 24/7
Wairoa Star, Wairoa East Coast by STUART NASH 04 May 2017

THERE have been two announcements about policing across the Eastern district and Wairoa recently.

Firstly, the Eastern Police District, that stretches from the top of East Cape to the bottom of Central Hawke’s Bay, will get an extra 69 police over the next four years. Secondly Wairoa’s police station will soon be open 24/7.

I am not one to diminish the contribution that 69 more police will make to the district, even though the government’s announcement of 880 new police fell 285 officers short of the police estimate of the number of officers needed to get on top of the crime problem and keep communities safe across the country.

I will not be celebrating until I have a better understanding as to where these new officers will be placed and the roles they will be undertaking. If the majority end up in some form of community policing, then we know our communities will have been listened too, because the lack of a police presence in our neighbourhoods is the biggest complaint I receive right across the electorate.

Police have a strategy of ‘prevention first’, which I completely buy into, however, if there aren’t the men and women on the ground who have a deep understanding of what is going on in our communities, then such a strategy will never be fully optimised.

Across the whole Eastern district there are only five officers whose primary responsibility is fighting organised crime.

At a time when ‘P’ is so prevalent and the gangs are dominant in its distribution, this is woefully inadequate.

The number of police in the Organised Crime Squad needs to increase significantly if we are to have an impact on this growing scourge.

The announcement that Wairoa’s police station will move to 24/7 operation means an extra four officers (presumably on top of the two vacancies currently in town) so I’m assuming Wairoa will see an extra six officers around the town patrolling fulltime.

It doesn’t mean the station will actually be open 24 hours of the day, but it does mean officers will be working at the station and able to respond to calls in a more timely manner. Certainly on the surface, this is good for Wairoa.

However, again, we need to better understand what these officers will be tasked with.

If their primary responsibility is community liaison and integration, then that’s great, but if it means more cops on traffic duty trying to nab unsuspecting motorists instead of solving crime and getting on top of the gang and drug problem, then I would question the priorities.

So overall, the changes look good for Wairoa. On top of the extra police required to move the station to 24/7, I would also expect Wairoa would be in line for even more police over the next four years as the extra 69 officers are deployed across the region.

All I am saying is let’s reserve judgement until we better understand the roles of the new officers and the effect these men and women will have on keeping our communities safe and putting the bad guys behind bars.

If their primary responsibility is community liaison and integration, then that’s great, but if it means more cops on traffic duty trying to nab unsuspecting motorists instead of solving crime and getting on top of the gang and drug problem, then I would question the priorities.

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