President's Column: Commitment goes both ways

Tue May 1st, 2018

Last month we published a story examining the culture shift at the Police College. The genesis of that story began months ago with murmurings from members – current and former – and media looking for answers to rumours that standards were dropping in a bid to find enough recruits to fill the Government’s promised 1800 extra officers.

Police News editor Ellen Brook went to the college to find out what is actually happening. She spoke with the trainers about the “different approach to recruit training”, and why the once quasi-military style has given way to a style they believe better reflects the modern policing environment.

It would be fair to say that confirmation of this shifting approach has ruffled a few epaulettes, and generated a couple of quite ridiculous media headlines.

Of concern is how quickly some who have either not fully read the story, or have done so with entrenched preconceived opinions, have criticised not just the story, but the ethos underlying the creation of a new breed of officer equipped to face changing crime and community landscapes.

I guess it is human nature to believe that those who follow us in training for any discipline, including policing, have it easier than we did. However, confusing change or adaptation for “easier” misses the point that nothing really remains static.

Although some may have reservations about aspects of the changing environment, what is clear is that recruitment standards have not dropped and we are privileged as an organisation to be joined by such an exceptional group of modern New Zealanders in a challenging, but ultimately rewarding career.

I meet every wing and attend their graduations and I’m continually impressed by the quality of our new colleagues and the undeniable fact that our wings really do look like New Zealand. I challenge anyone to witness a graduation haka and then question the commitment of the next crop of officers.

Commitment goes both ways when it comes to policing – from the officers to the community they are trained to protect, and from the Government that must ensure police officers and Police employees have the resources required to do their jobs professionally.

On the 17th of this month, the Government will reveal how much it will pay for the promised extra 1800 officers.

The Association will also be looking for commitment to non-sworn staff, without whom police across all sections would be severely hampered.

In February last year we were promised 880 police and 245 extra non-sworn staff and the Labour coalition confirmed that, plus another 920 officers. We welcomed that recognition of a severely overstretched frontline, but policing is about more than officers out on the beat.

My message to this Government is that the number of non-sworn staff will need to be significantly boosted if our 1800 extra police are going to be able to work safely and efficiently.

This month’s Budget needs to not only show us the money, but also announce a meaningful increase in Police employee numbers.

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