Blog by Police Commissioner Peter Marshall:
The thoughts of all in the police have been with our Defence colleagues and their families since the deaths of two New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan last weekend.
I contacted the Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, when the news broke.
I also telephoned Superintendent Neil Fisher, New Zealand Police contingent commander in Bamyan Province, where we have been represented since 2005 as part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.
On behalf of the police executive I expressed best wishes to Neil and his team at this difficult time, and we offered to help Defence with formalities in relation to the fallen soldiers. Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff will be present when their bodies arrive back in New Zealand tonight and I’ll represent Police at their funerals.
At such times we’re very aware of the bonds forged between police and defence personnel in settings such as the Solomon Islands and East Timor as well as in Afghanistan, and in the aftermath of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
In different ways police and defence share the risks which come with serving this country. While everything is done to minimise the dangers they face, our members accept that making a difference to people’s lives will always carry an element of risk.
On the home front, I continue to be impressed with the way day-to-day events up and down the country are handled by members of police.
These events don’t always reach the media and are often undertaken without fanfare and at considerable risk to the officers involved.
Certainly they have good outcomes for those whose lives are often saved through such actions.
Since my last post we’ve seen an example which received media coverage but deserves to be recounted.
It features a Rotorua dog handler who tracked a suspect for 38 minutes in sub-zero temperatures until he waded into Lake Rotorua to escape.
The handler appealed to the man to come back to shore but had to wade out himself when he refused.
He was joined by another officer and together they managed to grab the man when it became clear he was hypothermic and in danger of drowning.
Congratulations to them and other staff involved in the operation, which is indicative of the outstanding work going on nationwide.
I also acknowledge the Police Search and Rescue staff who braved the aftermath of the Tongariro eruption at dawn on Tuesday to search for trampers, and members involved after yesterday’s events at Paritutu Rock, Taranaki.
There was more evidence this week of police working to keep people safe, in conjunction with our partners in the Government’s Safer Journeys programme.
Provisional figures show that in the first nine months after the introduction of the zero alcohol limit for young drivers last August, there was an encouraging 30 per cent reduction in the average number of daily recorded excess alcohol offences among 15 to 19-year-old drivers.
It’s early days, but this is a very positive sign.
Still on the subject of good work, I receive accolades every week from members of the public about our officers’ good work - but I also receive occasional brickbats.
These grumbles almost invariably involve complainants who haven’t been updated on developments in their case.
Our job isn’t just about solving or preventing crime - police officers should never forget the reassurance people derive from interaction with a professional, personable and interested police officer.
Complainants don’t always expect the return of stolen property or apprehension of offenders, but they do want an empathetic police officer who will do his or her best and keep them up to date.
I’ve mentioned Detective Superintendent Black Jack Stevenson before. When I first joined the CIB in January 1975 his advice was to “make the complainant feel as though he or she is the most important person in your world”.
I ask staff to remember that principle.
Last week I spent a day in Napier and Hastings seeing staff and listening to their issues. This week I’ve been in Tasman District.
Deputy Commissioners Viv Rickard and Mike Bush have also been out and about.
As always, stay safe and look after each other.
Source: New Zealand Police.