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Pansy Speak: Walking a mile in the police’s shoes

Pansy Speak

Walking a mile in the police’s shoes

Last Friday night I got to experience what our police experience every single day. From 4pm until well after midnight, I went on the beat with the police in Howick. Even though there were times when things got a bit hairy, I always felt safe in their hands. Friday nights through to Sunday mornings are the busiest time due to the drinking and revelry that happens over the weekend, and I got to experience violence, rowdy behaviour and out-of-control drinking first hand.

Steady calls began flooding in from 4.30 pm while we patrolled the well-known trouble spots. Our first visit was to a reported brawl between school kids which was being filmed by another student. However, when we arrived the crowd bolted which meant the new Youth Crime Team and the local ‘Cop in School’ would have some following up to do.

We then went on to a nose-to-tail along Botany Road. A young mum’s car had been damaged and there was glass everywhere, but thankfully no one was hurt. The woman was visibly relieved to see the police arrive. They called a tow truck for her and made sure she was alright before moving on.

As the night progressed, so did the callouts for drink-related offences. One offender became so violent at the police station that he smashed and broke their phone – it wasn’t hard to imagine the fear his family must have felt. The police also did their regular drive down to Bucklands Beach to make sure no one was drinking in prohibited areas.

We had a quick stop for take-aways at 10 pm and the number of calls increased as the night wore on. At 11.40pm, neighbours reported a rowdy party at a Pakuranga address. With back-up in tow, we arrived at the party to have three bottles thrown at us, one arrest made, three under-age people escorted home, and the rest of the kids moved on. I’m sure there were some very sore heads and hopefully some sorry people the next day.

Among all the rowdiness, we also had to deal with three suicide attempts. At one, a mum was rushed to hospital with her six-year-old child looking on. All three people had told friends and families about what they intended to do and had been crying out for help. Fortunately, their friends called 111 in time.

The police also helped control drunken crowds spilling out onto the streets and drunk people harassing others. Bottle stores could often be found close-by with rock-bottom prices heavily advertised. There is no doubt in my mind that most of the mayhem would’ve been reduced if responsible drinking behaviour was a part of our culture.

Throughout all of this, most of the public respect the police and were glad for them to arrive. They do more than just attend the scene of the problem – they do substantial follow-up work, which means resources can be stretched even thinner.

Despite our full-on night, it wasn’t over yet!

There were a few police chases, one involving a car of gang members that sped through a red light. Thankfully, the chase was short-lived and had a happy ending. It was disappointing, though, to see two cars drive straight past patrol cars on their way to an incident, despite the fact that sirens were going and lights were flashing.

Our busy night highlighted that the police need better tools to do their job. National is committed to helping them by introducing Tasers (if the trial is deemed to be a success), requiring DNA to be taken from all people arrested for a crime which may lead to a prison term, allowing police to issue on-the-spot protection orders, and strengthening the bail laws.

National also wants to clamp down on gangs by making stronger the law that makes it illegal to belong to a criminal association, making it easier for police to carry out surveillance on gangs and remove gang fortifications, and make gang membership a factor when it comes to sentencing.

Together we can ensure a return to safer communities.

Pansy Wong


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