It was invaluable on many levels, including meeting members and hearing issues and concerns relevant to their work groups.
Where possible, I also visited the smaller stations for a quick introduction and, in the case of Balclutha, some exceptional cheese scones!
Some of the challenges facing our members are particular to their rural policing environments and not on the radar of the larger metropolitan centres. A key concern is single-crewing of PST units, especially on night shift, in rural centres, many of which are tough policing environments.
As the Government commits to increasing the number of 24-hour stations across New Zealand, it appears that the need for double-crewing has not been factored in to the number of staff needed.
Having worked a single-crew i-car in Te Kuiti many years ago, I know the dangers that can pose, and the stress that such assignments have on officers.
Attending the AGMs also helped me gauge support for the Association across the committees. Everywhere there are committed and passionate individuals doing great work on behalf of our members, but the number of actively involved members varies across the country.
In general, the provincial centres are well served, but in some metropolitan centres there were disappointing turnouts for the AGMs and a limited number of volunteers available to join committees.
The strength of the Association is its membership and the ability to speak credibly on behalf of members made possible because you have told us the real facts behind the challenges that policing brings.
Much of that information comes to me, and the National Office, through the committees, which is why it is extremely important that we retain and grow strong local Association networks that are representative of our large and diverse membership across all work groups.
The Board of Directors recognises this is a key challenge and will be working on initiatives to increase member involvement at the local level, and to ensure good communication between members and the National Office on policing issues.
I encourage everyone who has a view on the Association, the value we bring to you as a member and the wider police environment, to approach your local committee to see how you can contribute.
It doesn’t need to be a significant time commitment; a key role is simply ensuring that the views of your work group are being heard and, likewise, that the activities of the Association are being communicated back to you.