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Police Association president Chris Cahill.

President's Column: Working hard and playing hard

This month’s Police News brings you the highlights of a hard-earned break from the consistently tough job of policing – the Police Association and Police Sport Winter Games.

More than 530 Police staff from around the country finally hit the fields and courts in the Wellington district following two Covid-cancelled attempts in 2020 and 2021.

The association congratulates Police Sport for the tenacity and determination to organise this highly popular event. Our partnership with Police Sport fits perfectly with the association’s Vision and Mission to guard and enhance the wellbeing of members and their families, and we are proud to help ensure the Games success.

We see the Games as a quality break from the persistent challenges of the job.

New Zealand Police staff have always faced testing times – from the waterfront strikes in the 1950s and the Springbok Tour of 1981 through to the occupation of Parliament grounds earlier this year. The last example, however, has highlighted the distinct change in the environment in which we police.

Our members now face unrelenting demand, unrealistic expectations of what they can or should deliver to communities and the subsequent disappointment if they are unable to meet those expectations – officers included.

Added to that is the 24/7 scrutiny. It has never been greater, more full of criticism or so removed from reality – be it out-of-context or incomplete phone videos, unfounded criticisms from self-interested groups or the IPCA making unrealistic findings on decisions that officers can and should make in highly charged situations, with limited information and no time to debate options.

Therefore, in an environment of increasing assaults and daily confrontation with firearms incidents, to name just two danger areas, taking the opportunity for a break from their day (and night) job to enjoy the positive aspects of being a member of Police is incredibly important.

Camaraderie was identified as the highest-scoring positive in the recent Police Workplace Culture Survey, and it was enjoyable to witness this in spades during the Games.

They were certainly highly competitive, but friendship was evident throughout – a reminder of the great people we have in Police and the fact that they deserve to enjoy life away from the rigours of the job.

The changing demographics of contemporary policing was proudly evident, together with an ever-present wicked sense of humour.

The science on the benefits of fitness and sport is well established and highly applicable to our members who are often confronted with potentially traumatic events – whether it be taking a desperate 111 call or attending fatal road accidents.

Physical activity helps buffer stress, it enhances sleep and concentration, reduces anxiety and many of the other side effects of high-stress environments. It also boosts collegiality and relationships, and that was on full display during these Games.

It is especially important for members to make time for the fun things in life and to share them with whānau and friends.

Society asks a lot of you, so remember to keep a bit for yourself.

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