Grass­roots po­lice team gets re­sults

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Boy­cie Nel­son and Tama Morehu aren’t just two men in blue uni­forms — the kids in their neigh­bour­hood know them by name.

‘‘To me that’s suc­cess,’’ their boss Sergeant Tim Lock­wood says.

‘‘You’re not go­ing to find that in sta­tis­tics any­where, but when kids are com­ing up to me and say­ing ‘where’s Tama’ or ‘where’s Boy­cie’, that’s suc­cess.’’

Mr Nel­son and Mr Morehu are mem­bers of the seven-strong Rose­bank Water­view Neigh­bour­hood Polic­ing Team which is ap­proach­ing its sec­ond an­niver­sary.

It’s one of one of 33 Neigh­bour­hood Polic­ing Teams rolled out in New Zealand’s high needs com­mu­ni­ties since 2010.

The teams work in­ten­sively in small ar­eas on the most lo­cal is­sues with the hope of stop­ping crime be­fore it hap­pens and build­ing the im­age of po­lice.

In late 2011 Mr Lock­wood and his con­sta­bles kicked things off by sur­vey­ing res­i­dents about what they saw as the big­gest is­sues fac­ing their com­mu­nity.

At one end of the scale com­plaints ranged from youths drink­ing in parks and re­serves, along with gen­eral va­grancy, and beg­ging around the Avon­dale town cen­tre.

At the other end was peo­ple jump­ing fences to take short­cuts and mo­torists driv­ing down the flush me­dian strip on Rose­bank Rd.

‘‘Some­times what we think are the prob­lems aren’t the prob­lems,’’ Mr Lock­wood says.

As well as mak­ing head­way on most of th­ese is­sues, crime is down gen­er­ally.

The re­duc­tions equate to sev­eral hun­dred fewer of­fences in the area over the last six months com­pared to three years ago.

There are two Neigh­bour­hood Polic­ing Teams in the Auck­land City Po­lice Dis­trict with the other in Glen Innes.

The sub­urbs were cho­sen based on a vul­ner­a­bil­ity in­dex that takes into ac­count fac­tors like so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus, un­em­ploy­ment, age, and de­mands on po­lice.

The Auck­land dis­trict was di­vided into 100 small ar­eas.

Water­view sits in about 10th place and Rose­bank is sixth.

The teams are only ex­pected to stay in their ar­eas for three to five years. A big part of their job is sow­ing the seed of po­lice trust and con­fi­dence for the fu­ture.

That means street bar­be­cues as a plat­form to spread crime preven­tion ad­vice and reg­u­larly vis­it­ing schools to build re­la­tion­ships with young peo­ple.

Of­fi­cers like Mr Nel­son and Mr Morehu have be­come part of the fur­ni­ture at the schools in their patch in­clud­ing Water­view Pri­mary School.

Some of the team have helped out on school camps and Mr Nel­son coached an Avon­dale Col­lege rugby league team last year.

‘‘It’s about send­ing the mes­sage that if ev­ery­thing is good we’ll just be there to say ‘ hi’ and if some­thing goes wrong we’ll be there to help you if you’re a vic­tim.

‘‘But, just be­cause you’re a stu­dent and we come and see you ev­ery week in the good times, you’re still go­ing to be held to ac­count by the same peo­ple if you steal some­one’s car, or break into their house, or have a fight and beat up one of your fel­low stu­dents.

‘‘We’re not nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to see a re­duc­tion in crime from go­ing to the schools now, but in five years’ time we might, if all those kids have pos­i­tive im­pres­sions of po­lice and they also know if they do some­thing wrong we are go­ing to do our job.’’

The team works along­side a Neigh­bour­hood Safety Panel which is a group of com­mu­nity mem­bers who meet ev­ery cou­ple of months to be a voice for the com­mu­nity and help plan events.

Pho­tos: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Fa­mil­iar faces: Con­sta­bles Tama Morehu, left, and Boy­cie Nel­son from the Rose­bank Water­view Neigh­bour­hood Polic­ing Team.

Team leader: Rose­bank Water­view Neigh­bour­hood Polic­ing Team Sergeant Tim Lock­wood.

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