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Recruit wings take off without patrons

The Police College is running out of patrons.

From November till April, five recruit wings have had no patron as the college struggles to find suitable people to fill the positions.

Assistant Commissioner Scott Fraser, Capability, said the problem was compounded by having wings running concurrently in Auckland and Wellington, as that meant patrons had to duplicate their role between two cities.

The patronless wings were 332, which graduated on November 21, then numbers 333 and 335, both of which included Auckland sections, which graduated on December 19 (college), January 16 (Auckland) and February 27 (college), March 19 (Auckland).

Wing 334, which graduated on January 30, and had no Auckland section, was under the patronage of criminal justice advocate Sir Kim Workman.

Before that, the last patron was Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall who oversaw Wing 331, which did have an Auckland section.

Mr Fraser confirmed that with factors such as time commitments and prospective patrons withdrawing due to unforeseen circumstances, there had been instances where the college could not get a wing patron in time.

In those cases, the wings received enhanced mentoring and support from the college Leadership Team, he said.

Two upcoming wings, 337 and 338, also have no patrons, but Wing 336, which graduated during the last week in March, was, perhaps appropriately in hindsight, overseen by the director general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

In the unprecedented circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, the 59 graduates were sworn in in groups of 10 in a large room at the Police College to allow for social distancing, and families and friends were not allowed to take part.

Dr Bloomfield told the graduates that in a week’s time they would be called on do extraordinary things in their communities.

Police reported that the new officers pushed the number of constabulary staff to the 10,000 mark for the first time, representing a growth of just over 13 per cent since June 2017.

Mr Fraser said the college was working on a plan to ensure it could access a bigger pool of patrons, including encouraging all staff to put forward the names of people they think would be suitable for the role.

Patrons are expected to attend wing ceremonies, such as powhiri, attestations (swearing-in) and graduations, and to have ongoing contact with recruits in a mentoring role.

“This can be a considerable time commitment for patrons who often hold prominent and busy roles in the community, in public, philanthropic or business sectors,” Mr Fraser said.

“We aim to select patrons who are experienced leaders in their communities, who have the skills, motivation and temperament to be good mentors and role models to Police recruits.”

All wing patrons are appointed by the Commissioner of Police.

Police is encouraging all staff to put forward the names of people they think would be suitable as wing patrons.

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