The Northland Age - - Front Page - By Peter de Graaf

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)

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