The Profit and Policing

Wairoa Star – May 2017

This quarter’s Profit magazine has a fantastic set of positive stories about Wairoa. It outlines the town’s present and future prospects, as well as profiling a number of successful business owners, entrepreneurs, innovators and those who have moved for lifestyle reasons – and who are loving all that Wairoa has to offer. Copies of this free magazine can be picked up from the Wairoa District Council offices.

I have written about the benefits of a Wairoa lifestyle many times but it is great to see an outside magazine take note and report on everything great about the town and the region. Long gone are the days when the only thing ever reported about Wairoa was negative.

I am not saying that everything is perfect and that we can’t do better, because of course there is always room for continuous improvement, but I do get the real sense that things are on the right track in terms of cultivating economic development, celebrating cultural diversity and promoting positive stories.

If I am honest, however, I still have grave concerns about the level of policing across the region. Last time I wrote about this issue, I expressed my understanding that the current announcements around a 24/7 station should mean at least 6 more sworn officers into the community (two to get staffing levels up to what they should be currently and at least four to ensure that the promise of a 24/7 station is delivered upon). I have been led to believe that this might not be the case, and the four promised with the 24/7 station may well include the two vacant positions. If so, this is wrong and unfair.

I am a huge believer in the value of community policing as this model allows police officers the time to proactively engage with their communities in a way that adds value and, according to world’s best practise, prevent crime. If all Police are doing is reacting to incidents and continuously chasing their tails, then this impacts on their ability to develop close positive relationships with key stakeholders.

Everyone knows that the current policing situation in Wairoa is unsustainable. It is one of the reasons why Wairoa was the first cab of the proverbial rack to go 24/7, but if the staffing levels aren’t sufficient to deliver on community expectations, then it becomes just another empty promise.

Let’s all hope that the rumours I have heard are just that: rumours, and Wairoa ends up with the level of police staffing required to keep our communities safe and put the bad guys behind bars. I will let you know the result of my investigations into this.

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