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Lewis vows to fight for more frontline police




11 August 2008

Policing: Lewis vows to fight for more frontline staff

Former Counties Manukau police sergeant Richard Lewis is vowing to fight for more frontline police in Manukau if his candidacy for the electorate is successful.

Mr Lewis says Manukau’s staffing levels have been at crisis point for a long time but that Government is refusing to face up to the reality.

“It’s going to take somebody who has actually had to police places like Otara, Mangere and Otahuhu with next to no staff to force Parliament to face up to the problem and give this dire situation the priority it deserves,” says Mr Lewis.

His sentiment is reiterated by an anonymous Counties Manukau Sergeant who says police struggle to put out sufficient cars and that the public would be horrified. “At times we struggle to put two cars out in one shift – we're lucky if we ever get three."

Mr Lewis said he faced the same problem and oftentimes had to respond to violent incidents alone due to lack of staff. “The problem was not only a lack of staff, but the staff you did have were generally very inexperienced, which can compound situations that are over their head. The outcome can be someone getting hurt or a botched investigation,” said Mr Lewis.

The Police Association said violent crime in Counties Manukau had risen 19.3 per cent in 2007. It was also recently revealed in Parliament that only five of 53 aggravated robberies were solved in Counties Manukau before the fatal shooting of liquor store owner Navtej Singh in June.

Dave Pizzini, a Detective Senior Sergeant in Counties Manukau CIB, said there were also insufficient investigative staff. "We keep treading water when we don't have homicides, but as soon as we have homicides or other serious crime, major investigations turn to custard. We just need extra staff, we always have. Our district has never been staffed properly," he said.

Richard Lewis says the situation has gotten increasingly worse over the last decade and that Labour’s South Auckland MP’s had to take responsibility. “After nine years of Labour leadership over Manukau, Mangere and Manurewa we arrive at this crisis point for Manukau’s communities. It’s time for wholesale changes at the top starting with the MP’s responsible,” Mr Lewis added.

Richard Lewis is leader of the Family Party and is contesting the Manukau East electorate. The Family Party is also strongly contesting the Mangere electorate and will soon be announcing a candidate for Manurewa.


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