I read with concern today a media report questioning the quality of Police recruits.
Let me be very clear that I am extremely proud of our NZ Police recruits. I meet them at The Royal New Zealand Police College, see them at work in districts and I am constantly impressed by them. I never wonder if they have enough courage to do this job. They have put their hands up to keep the public safe and, at times, to put themselves in harm’s way in order to do that. I hope all New Zealanders are as proud of them as I am.
New Zealand Police’s selection criteria is robust and the standard of recruits today is among the best we have ever had. I want to be sure that when they leave the police college, recruits feel they are capable and equipped to do the job to a high standard and to keep themselves and others safe. I do not pretend we always get this right, which is why we continually look at the quality of our training and work to improve that. Our methods change all the time and we listen to feedback on training standards. If they are found to be wanting then we act.
There is no doubt that when a recruit has completed their time at The Royal New Zealand Police College they still have a lot to learn. I have no doubt there are times at the beginning where they might falter due to lack of experience – when they are put on section they have been in uniform for just 16 weeks. I well remember as a young constable finding myself on the beat alone for the first time. I was 18 years old and it was a truly daunting experience. We rely on our senior staff to guide new staff and continue training and supporting them for the two years that they are probationary constables. This is the time where they learn that policing can be more art than science and that experience is what truly teaches them the job.
I say this to all New Zealanders, including current and former police staff: back your next generation of police officers, as I do.
Subscribe to the Commissioner's blog.