OPINION: I was a frontline Police officer for 14 years and I know first-hand what officers are up against and the dangers they can face every time they do a shift.
Since I was an officer, it’s all become so much worse. Police are often the ones who are called on first when there’s a mental health crisis. Gang numbers have skyrocketed. Just last week a Police officer was shot, and another officer was shot at.
I’ve been talking to frontline officers this week. Several of them have told me they don’t feel supported by the Government. In fact, they couldn’t even tell me who the Police Minister was.
The Government sends a signal with its attitude. Police see a Government that is soft on crime. They see Ministers visiting gang pads, they see the Prime Minister giving the very gangs who peddle drugs millions of dollars to run drug programmes. They don’t see their Minister standing up and condemning the gangs when they shoot at Police. They see a Government that hasn’t reached its 1800 new Police target and they see a Government that has stopped recruitment of new officers.
They feel let down.
Each morning when a Police officer gets up and puts the blue uniform on, they should do so knowing that the country stands behind them, appreciates them, and supports them. They are the people we call on in our most dire times of need. A Government setting the example of strong support would go a long way.
This week ACT will release a discussion document with a raft of new law and order polices. In past four years gang numbers have increased by 50 percent and it’s time to take stand. It’s time to show Police we care, and we will do everything we can to support them.
In the meantime, to Poto Williams (she’s the Police Minister – in case you didn’t know) start listening, start defending our men and women in blue and stop coddling the gangs. It’s time to start sending the right message to our Police and all of New Zealand.
About Chris Baillie: Before entering Parliament, Chris worked for fifteen years as a teacher for students with special learning needs, and before that 14 years as a Policeman.
Chris also owns a small business employing 30 people.
He has a strong interest in sport and music, being an enthusiastic supporter of the local Nelson jazz scene.