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Ten questions with our new Southern field officer Debbie Ericsson who began work last month.

  1. You’ve only just got your feet under the desk… but what sort of desk is it? Can you describe your workspace?

    I live in a villa built in the 1880s, so the office has panelled walls and large windows with leadlight top-lights.

  2. Tell us a bit about your background?

    I was born in Dunedin, but grew up in rural towns. Firstly, Oamaru, my mum’s home town, then Hanmer Springs, where my father worked at the hospital as a carpenter. Hanmer was fantastic; we lived outdoors, spending lots of time in the forest. When I was eight, we moved to Central Otago, another outdoor paradise for kids. I completed my last year of school in Christchurch and then went to Dunedin for university. I was the first member of the Ericsson family to go to university. Ten years and three degrees later, my mum thought I was never going to leave. With the exception of a couple of years in London, Dunedin has been my home ever since. I have three beautiful children, aged, 12, 17 and 22, who all live at home with me.

  3. You previously worked as a lawyer for many years, including starting your own law practice. How do you think that will inform your work with Police Association members?

    Having worked as a general legal practitioner, I was able to consider the wider implications of situations faced by clients, and, having also worked in criminal law for the past four years, I appreciate some of the difficult situations that Police Association members deal with.

  4. We assume you like travelling, as there are many kilometres to cover in the field officer role. What are your favourite parts of the district?

    I love travelling and have just come back from two weeks in Canada where I visited the most unusual police station I have ever seen. I have always loved Central Otago, the mountains, lakes, sunshine and colours. What more could you ask for?

  5. Why does the role appeal to you?

    It combines the best parts of the two jobs I was doing before. That was working with the Law Society, where I supported members individually as well as being actively involved with major issues, such as working towards better work conditions. And, as a criminal lawyer, I was active in working to improve conditions for those working in the criminal courts, addressing such issues as judicial bullying, as well as safety for members. I also enjoyed the one-on-one advocacy that my legal aid work provided.

  6. What do you see as the main challenges facing Police staff in New Zealand in 2019?

    The increasing seriousness of violence in society. I know that going to work with the expectation of dealing with the aftermath of violence is hard enough, but knowing you are likely to be faced with it and have it directed at you has to be so much worse. As a defence lawyer, I was threatened many times, but I know that it is nothing like what police face.

  7. You’re a “Southern Woman”, close to some of the best mountain country in New Zealand, but we hear you’re not keen on skiing… Is there a story behind that and do you have any other sporting interests or hobbies?

    Not a very exciting story. I fell off a ladder and damaged my right knee and I also have an injury to my left ankle, so skiing hurts. I became a better cafe skier... I really am a crafter. My mum is an artist and, for many years, mum and dad were potters. Having grown up in a creative household, name a craft and I’ve probably tried it. Currently, I do a lot of sewing and quilting. I also love getting out in nature and walking, generally with friends.

  8. What’s the most adventurous thing you have ever done?

    Backpacking through Eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall came down, followed closely by travelling through Egypt not long after one of the uprisings. Both, at times, involved men with big guns shouting at us in a language we didn’t understand. Despite that, the place where I have felt most in danger was travelling through the Bible Belt in the United States… talk about too many banjos!

  9. What would you recommend for visitors to Dunedin?

    The peninsular, particularly Taiaroa Head. Watching albatrosses fly and seeing all the other wildlife is a real treat. We are also blessed with amazing beaches.

  10. Do you miss the old Cadbury factory that was forced to close in March last year, and did you have a favourite chocolate flavour or lolly?

    No. Cadbury went downhill when it was taken over by Kraft, so I stopped buying it years ago. We now have a fantastic boutique chocolate factory, Ocho, which makes some amazing products (my favourite is dark peppermint).

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