Ears, eyes on the streets
FIRST NIGHT: Volunteer community patrollers Bo Edwards (left) and Michael Langdale-Hunt pictured at work on the first night of the new community safety initiative last Thursday. Also on patrol with the pair was Phil Herewini. 135071AD
By Dean Taylor
Two years planning and hard work came to fruition last Thursday when Kihikihi’s Community Policing office opened for business and the first Community Safety Patrols took to the streets.
The concept of a Safer Community Council was first raised by Te Awamutu Community Board about two years ago, but a submission to Waipa District Council for a Waipa-wide service failed to attract the necessary support at that stage.
Undeterred Waipa Councillor and Community Board member Hazel Barnes and Community Constable Richard Hurrell proceeded for a service for this side of the district.
Much of the research and networking put in place for the district submission was put to good use, and Te Awamutu and District Police bosses continued to give their support to the project.
First step was the formation of the Te Awamutu Safer Community Charitable Trust of Mrs barnes (chairperson), Mr Hurrell, Chris Smith, Terry Osment and Chris Grenfell. The Trust investigated what was wanted, and what was achievable, for our district.
Kihikihi residents had raised the issue of a stronger policing presence for the village, and some sort of patrol, and that helped form the nucleus of what was launched last week.
Thursday’s launch was twofold - the opening of Kihikihi’s Police Base and the first day of Community Patrols.
Mr Hurrell will be available at the Lyon Street base on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am until 1pm, and welcomes any village residents wanting to discuss policing matters. His office is part of the community building leased by Te Awamutu Maori Women’s Welfare League and made available for a number of community groups.
Te Awamutu’s Community Patrol, will be co-ordinated from the base, 32 trained volunteers who will add their eyes and ears to help keep Te Awamutu and district safe. The patrols will operate Thursday to Saturday evenings. Three volunteers each shift, using the TrustPower sponsored vehicle, will patrol selected area identified by Police from reported incidents, plus general patrols and they can be directed by Police on the night to assist or respond in case of incident.
As an example patrols in the first three nights were used to help locate three youths being sought after being seen on properties and helped with traffic control at a gas leak in the main street. Data recorded by the volunteers will be utilised by Police and Intel to assist with enquiries.
Speaking at the opening Mayor Livingston and Te Awamutu Senior Sergeant Dave Simes spoke of the cooperation between various agencies to bring about a safer community. They congratulated Mrs Barnes, the Trust, volunteers and all sponsors for making the project a reality.
Mrs Barnes added her thanks, on behalf of the Trust, to Police, Council and funders for supporting the cause. She said their generosity and support meant the Kihikihi Police Base was of a high standard, volunteers had a good range of communication and safety equipment and vehicle running costs and maintenance are taken care of initially.
Mrs Barnes said the Trust’s ongoing challenge is to continue to secure funds to maintain a high level of service.