Inspired by the Humans of New York photoblog, we’re showcasing some of the incredible stories and experience of people throughout our organisation.
Ross, Inspector, Manager National Command Coordination Centre
Kia ora, I’m taking part in People of Police because I am leaving after 33 years’ service to start a new role in the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
I have had a wonderful career meeting amazing people along the way. After graduating as a member of the 112 Peter Button recruit wing in 1988, followed by three years in Onehunga and Henderson (as we called it then), I moved to Nelson and spent nine wonderful years there bringing up our kids.
We then moved back to Tāmaki Makaurau and I worked in Manurewa for two years. The lure of Nelson pulled us back in 2002 and we worked there for another 10 years before moving to Canterbury. We later moved to Wellington and on to Police National Headquarters (PNHQ) where I landed the role of Manager Youth. My current position is National Command Coordination Centre Manager.
I think of my Police career in three parts, Family Harm, Armed Offender Squad (AOS) and Youth - all have given me incredible satisfaction.
I have been able to move around a bit because of the support of my wife, Vicki, who made many sacrifices. One of my more interesting experiences was two visits to Kiribati delivering family violence training.
Things are pretty basic there and with most of the population on one atoll, Tawara, meaning women who are subject to violence have few options available to them to get away from the violence. Training Police to better respond to family violence was one way of helping these victims.
When I reflect back, I think fondly of my time in Nelson as a Youth Aid officer. In 1995 I worked for the very innovative Sergeant Trevor Gaskell who had the job title Prevention Manager well ahead of its time.
Trevor had a dream of creating a Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) programme in Nelson. He had previously been involved with BBBS as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
BBBS is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships for young people of New Zealand. It’s one of the largest mentoring services in the world.
BBBS matches vulnerable young boys and girls with same-gender adult mentors to support them into better life outcomes. In 1997, Trevor realised this dream when some crime prevention money was secured that enabled the creation of a position and a board, giving birth to the Nelson branch.
Such was the impact of BBBS - word spread with branches opening soon after on the West Coast and Taranaki - led by more enthusiastic police officers.
Trevor led the creation of a National Board in 2004, enabling the continued growth in branches; there are now 13 branches including Wellington and Tāmaki Makaurau with over 1000 active matches.
Big Brothers Big Sisters has a solid evidence base and is strong in addressing the risk factors of keeping kids engaged in school and reducing anti-social attitudes.
I have heard many life-changing stories in my 20 years of involvement. Independent research has shown the positive relationships between tamariki and their Big Brothers and Big Sisters have a direct and measurable impact on young lives.
Police support the programme in lots of ways including creating BBBS positions of professional coordinators out of existing Police positions and volunteering as board members or as mentors. BBBS is something Police can be immensely proud of with plenty of potential left yet to change the lives of more vulnerable kids.
Unfortunately, Trevor died a few years ago but his legacy remains in many Police districts. I am proud to have been part of this legacy during my time in the New Zealand Police.
Ngā manaakitanga (With best wishes)