Po­lice re­struc­ture prompts fear

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - SAM KILMISTER

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.

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

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.

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