US eye-opener for officer
Glenside resident Claire Bibby left New Zealand a police officer and returned a deputy sheriff.
The Porirua Police College instructor is a senior sergeant and a 25-year veteran of the police force.
Taking responsibility for her own professional development this year, she visited the United States to study firearms safety training.
While in Shelby County, Tennessee, Sheriff Bill Oldham made her an honorary deputy sheriff in recognition of her attitude.
Ms Bibby had been offered a partial sponsorship from the Tennessee police training institution, Tactical Energetic Entry Systems, but she paid the rest of the costs herself and took annual leave.
She also visited some US police jurisdictions to check out their firearms safety training.
She took courses in dignitary protection and carbine and handguns, and she observed training exercises.
The need for detailed planning was a big part of each exercise, she said.
US police officers carry weapons while on duty, and many also obtain private licences to carry concealed weapons off duty, but firearms are not necessarily permitted everywhere they go.
‘‘ Dignitary protection required us to go in and out of different public buildings, a police station, a civic building, Gracelands and we went to a public park.
‘‘Before we went into each of those places the planning required each of those officers to check whether they were entitled to take their gun in there. They had to check the various laws in each situation.’’
The strongest thing that came through was a culture of learning and continuous development, she said.
‘‘It’s a healthy culture and what they are looking for in the courts is to show that they are striving for the best.’’
She was surprised to find many of the US officers she met were undertaking advanced training at their own expense.
‘‘A lot of them were quite comfortable with doing that. I went to a SWAT [ Special Weapons and Tactics] conference.
‘‘A lot of officers were there on their own time and paid their own way.’’
Along with the culture of learning came a willingness to share knowledge, she said. ‘‘It was very humbling.’’ The biggest surprise for Ms Bibby was the interest she found among police officers in New Zealand’s gun laws.
‘‘Quite a few of the police I spoke to knew that our New Zealand police do not wear firearms as a matter of course, but that didn’t interest them so much as the gun laws that sat behind that.
‘‘They were interested in our firearms licensing regime and the fact that the police have responsibility in issuing licences and interviewing people in the process of getting licences.’’
The experience was ‘‘ worth every penny’’, she said.
‘‘ I learned so much over there, and I developed some great relationships with the police officers over there from the heads of police departments to the constable on the ground.
‘‘They will be relationships I will have with me for all of my life. Of course, they all want to come to New Zealand to hunt.’’
Deputy sheriff: New Zealand Senior Sergeant Claire Bibby was made an honorary deputy sheriff while studying firearms safety training in the United States.