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We often speak of the police family and the collegiality and support we draw from it. In my role as Police Association president, I have developed a much better appreciation of what it means to be part of that family in New Zealand and why it is important to be connected to police associations globally.

As an association, we have recently been able to help an Australian association member who suffered a dreadful family tragedy in New Zealand. That’s what families do. They rally in the bad times and celebrate the good times.

We are an active and valued member of ICPRA, the International Council of Police Representative Associations, which brings together police unions to share information and expertise and discuss all kinds of policing issues, including mental wellbeing, physical safety, pay and conditions.

Given New Zealand has only one association, it is even more important for us to link with, among others, our Australian, Canadian, British, Irish and African policing counterparts.

During the early days of the March Christchurch attacks, international colleagues sent many personal and professional letters of sympathy, empathy and support. These were extremely comforting to officers and Police employees during that intense and demanding time. The genuine concern and offers of assistance were much appreciated.

One of the truly positive developments of modern policing is the commitment to health and safety. However, follow through is essential for establishing and maintaining credibility.

In policing, health and safety is a big ask because, unlike most other businesses, our business-as-usual is anything but.Police face many risks – assaults on officers, threats with firearms and other weapons, mental health and family violence callouts, fatal road crashes and some other pretty dark moments.

The association – from elected committees, to national office and right through to the board – takes very seriously the responsibility to safeguard the health and safety of our members on and off duty.

We also spend a great deal of time negotiating with Police when it is clear it needs to step up to ensure a safe work environment.

Our responsibility extends to the families of members because they too are affected by the demands of policing. Families are also well placed to help identify issues when members themselves fail to recognise they need support, or choose to ignore assistance that is available.

In this edition of Police News there are two excellent examples of the benefits of strong relationships fostered among cops and other first responders.

We have Marton constable Matt Davis with his international Facebook support page for mental health, and the fight in the United States to extend financial assistance to first responders suffering the devastating after-effects of working at Ground Zero in 2001.

These stories reflect the realities of the mental and physical challenges facing first responders and why addressing them is consistent with contemporary policing.

They make great reading, and I hope they give you confidence to discuss the many health issues that can arise from our jobs.

As you may know by now, with no other nominations, I will not be facing an election for my second term as president at this October’s annual conference. I want to thank you all for your support over the past three years, and I pledge to keep fighting for your health and safety rights, as you continue to turn up to one of the most demanding jobs imaginable.

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