Police restructure prompts fear
Uncertainty surrounding the future of policing in Feilding and other rural communities has prompted fear among the town’s business community.
But the police district commander has said 24-hour police presence in the town is not at risk.
Police staff in the district have received a consultation document outlining a ‘‘proposed structure and deployment’’ model for the area, which includes Manawatu, Whanganui and Taranaki.
District commander superintendant Sue Schwalger would not say which communities may be affected. But the changes would not result in the closure of any of the 40 police stations in the district, or a reduction in staff numbers.
‘‘I wish to reassure the Feilding community there is no threat the Feilding Police station will close or that there will be a reduction in policing in Feilding.’’
Business Promotions chairman Wayne Short feared the changes may include officers from the Palmerston North station operating on call on a rostered basis.
‘‘From a business point of view we can understand it - but it can’t be done if the result of it will be detrimental to performance. We’ve got a lot of gaps in security footage around town and it would be preferable to have police on site at all times, rather than having a 15 minute delay if anything goes wrong.’’
Feilding and District Promotion chairman Jason Smith said the town would have to increase its private security if police were to respond from the Palmerston North.
The agency employs a fulltime security officer who patrols the business CBD every night, with two officers on a Friday night.
‘‘The fear is we’ll have to increase private security if there is a lesser police presence and there is a cost to the community involved with that.’’
Schwalger said there had been no discussion regarding reducing the hours of coverage or shifting to an ‘on call’ response.
‘‘I can assure the community that there will continue to be a 24/7 policing presence.’’
She said there may be public consultation on the proposed changes.
Feilding’s Business Promotion group fear if police are taken away crime will go up in the village CBD. From left, Kerry Gracie, Jason Smith, John Cotton and Wayne Short.