WHO TO CALL
The doors at Kaitaia police station have been locked for the next month — but the town’s top cop is assuring locals there will be more police on the streets than usual during the lockdown period.
Senior Sergeant Russell Richards said the station closed to the public at 4pm yesterday due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The move aimed to protect front counter staff from exposure to the virus but would also discourage people from making unnecessary trips into town when they needed to stay at home.
Police would still be available but he urged anyone in need of assistance to pick up the phone instead of trying to call in to the station in person.
“We want to encourage people to use their phones and call 105 [the police non-emergency number] or 111 in an emergency.”
People could also call the Crimestoppers line (0800 555 111) or report non-emergencies via the police website (go to police. govt.nz, then scroll down to ‘Report a non-emergency’ or ‘Report a road incident or unsafe driver’).
“Older people in the community who aren’t used to technology may find that frustrating but we have to make sure people aren’t driving around unnecessarily in this time.”
Senior Sergeant Richards said there would be more police than usual on the streets.
“We’ll still be on the road 24/7. We have a plan in place to bolster that front line by bringing staff out of roles that are nonessential in the current circumstances. Their work can go on hold for a while,” he said.
“Our priorities will be to get to those calls that we know are critical and to be visible in our community, especially around our shops and supermarkets and medical facilities to support those services.”
Senior Sergeant Richards said he was not anticipating problems but a lot of people were understandably stressed.
“We just want to make sure people who are stressed don’t make silly decisions in the heat of the moment that will affect them for the rest of their lives. We also want to reassure businesses that we will be visible, to stop theft and help make people make better decisions. We’ll be out there serving the community as we always do in a time of crisis.”
Police would help enforce selfisolation rules if called upon by the Health Ministry.
With people cooped up at
Go to covid19.govt.nz for coronavirus updates.
home for the next month Senior Sergeant Richards said police were also prepared for an increase in family violence.
“We encourage families to find other ways to resolve tension. Just step back and breathe … don’t make any bad decisions. That just adds to the stress. We’re all in this together and if we all follow the self-isolation rules hopefully we’ll get through it quicker.”
He urged anyone who was struggling to call any of the help services that were available, and appealed to people to be patient with the police who were dealing with an unprecedented situation. Not all matters could be dealt with immediately.
“If somebody’s found your wallet, that’s not going to be a priority in a time of crisis. Yes, we will get it back to you but it might not be straight away. I’d ask you to stop and think, ‘Will this be a priority for the police?’ If it can wait a week, then let it wait a week.”
People should still call 111 immediately if life or property was in danger “or something doesn’t seem right”, he said.
"We want to encourage people to use their phones and call 105 [the police non-emergency number], or 111 in an emergency."
Kaitaia police Senior Sergeant Russell Richards (pictured)