Education officer Ian to retire
Ian Browne has the words ‘‘ gone fishing’’ scrawled in large black letters on his wall planner – from May 11 through the rest of this year.
The senior constable and education officer is retiring after 33 years in the force, the last 20 in Porirua. He was a beat cop in Picton before making the move across the Cook Strait.
‘‘I was looking for something different. Picton was my hometown and I had 13 great years there, but it was time to move on.’’
Tired of being the proverbial ambulance at the bottom of the hill, he was drawn to the role of an education officer and engaging with kids early.
Working with schools in the district, Mr Browne talked to teachers, parents and children about road safety, carried out peer mediation and reckons he has attended more than 100 school camps.
‘‘I loved it. Dealing with the kids was always great, because you never knew what they were going to come up with. They’re so open and honest and they kept me young.
‘‘It’s very rewarding, a lot of satisfaction, but the body’s not so willing anymore – I was doing a road patrol recently and this kid said his mum remembers me from when she was at school, so that suggests I’ve been doing this long enough.’’
Mr Browne, 55, says he still hears from kids he encountered 20 years ago and is ‘‘chuffed’’ that he may have made some difference in their lives.
He would have liked to take some home ‘‘to give them a better life’’.
He says many young people have a mistrust of police, due to influences from parents, other family members or friends, but he tried to provide a positive interaction.
Success was hard to measure – just giving the kids things to think about and hoping they make good choices was important.
‘‘There are definitely kids who have an attitude when you first meet them, you see it straight off.
‘‘But because they’re more open than adults, you have an opportunity to make them see we’re not the bad guys. One girl, I remember, was having real trouble with her peers, she wanted to fit in with a particular group. I made an offhand comment that she should not worry about it, perhaps it’s not worth it, and her teacher later told me that that was the difference.’’
Mr Browne says his departure will allow someone with a fresh approach to step in.
He plans to find further work but with a golf game to improve and fish to catch, there is no hurry.
So long: Ian Browne says he will miss the interaction with kids most when he retires from the police force next month. ‘‘I have a lot of fun doing this job, there was no boredom with such different kids every day.’’