Police encourage staff to participate in community events

Police encourage staff to participate in community events

Waitemata

Police officers spending time with children and parents at school events will continue to be an important part of community policing, Inspector Les Paterson, North Shore Area Commander, said today.

"It's not unusual for police to be asked to attend and participate in community events, including school fairs, and indeed we encourage our people to do so," Inspector Paterson said. "These community events provide an excellent opportunity for us to mix with people of all ages in a non enforcement environment.

"I'd be disappointed if historical footage posted on You Tube last week showing officers in two patrol cars taking children for rides at school fairs was taken out of context. I've talked with both officers who reject any suggestion they were driving at an excessive speed, or in an unsafe or dangerous manner.

"I've only seen the footage that has appeared on You Tube. The event itself happened 15 months ago and it's only now that the footage has been shown. I'm keen to speak with the school staff but from what the officers tell me, they liaised closely with the event organisers, and a safety briefing was part of this process."

Inspector Paterson said two very experienced community officers were directed to attend and support the Target Road Primary School event on the North Shore in November 2008. As part of their participation in the event they took children for rides on an area of the playing field set aside for this purpose. Small voluntary donations were made by people having a ride in the patrol cars and this money went into the overall school fundraising effort.

"Police have been carrying out similar duties at school galas on a modest scale for many years and I'm unaware of any incidents," Inspector Paterson said. "Safety is of course very important and we do not want to see this compromised.

"If there are lessons to be learned that we can incorporate for future events, then we will of course take those on board. However it's important to remember that the officers went to the school to carry out a public service with the best of intentions and with the interests of the children at heart.

"We all want to ensure that everyone has a very positive and safe time when we participate in events. These are opportunities for everyone to learn a little bit more about policing in our community, and that their police officers are visible and approachable people."

Ends
Kaye Calder
District Media Liaison Adviser: Public Affairs
Police National Headquarters
Tel 04 460 2986 or 027 241 6305