Promotion for community cop
Sergeant Gary McKernon of the Dannevirke Police loves community policing because it’s about people.
McKernon came to Dannevirke five and a half years ago with his wife and in his recent promotion to sergeant he has stepped into a new role, responsible for helping prevent family harm, and youth services.
And while this new role means a step back from the streets, for McKernon people are at the heart of what he aims to do.
McKernon joined the Dannevirke Police in April 2013, transferring from South Auckland and now with a fiveyear-old daughter, he said his family “aren’t going anywhere”.
“I am here for the long term,” he said. “We came down to be part of the community and community groups and iwi supported me in my application for the position here. We like it here. We have a lifestyle block and my daughter goes to a good country school, so why not live here. Dannevirke has worked out very well for us. This is a good community and Dannevirke has a lot going for it.”
But McKernon admitted there isn’t any map to follow for his new role, with issues like any town.
“Family harm issues are complex and getting to grips with this is a new challenge,” he said. “Victims are nearly always the children and when you listen to some of the stories . . .”
After 23 years in the police McKernon has seen some of the horrific sides of life, including women who take a beating to appease their husbands and protect their children.
“When I first came to Dannevirke youth crime was huge, but the installation of CCTV security cameras have made a big change,” he said. “Now I’d like to see us deal with the tagging.” And he said the perceived gang problem in Dannevirke is complex too.
“These gang members have lived here longer than me, they haven’t moved here,” he said. “Wearing a gang patch isn’t a crime, but when they commit an offence they are caught and charged.”
“We’ve had feedback regarding our visibility in town and it’s my intent to have more foot patrols, with police more accessible,” he said.
McKernon’s position is the second sergeant role for Tararua Police, with Paul Adrian also based in Dannevirke.
Two staff left the police this month and another has returned to Palmerston North for career reasons.
“This did impact our staffing levels but we have managed to recruit to fill those positions, so there’s no loss,” Glassey said.
Over the last six months Dannevirke has had a good reduction in property crime and a lot of that is down to the focus of police, but drug and alcohol problems remain.
Senior sergeant Jymahl Glassey, left, of the Tararua Police, with sergeant Gary McKernon.