Keeping speedsters on straight and narrow
A retired Kapiti policeman has returned to the beat in the back of an unmarked speed camera van.
Noel Bigwood, who retired as Otaki sergeant in 2012 after 40 years in uniform, has become a speed camera contractor in work that sees him patrolling the town's streets again.
Bigwood said he was no longer an officer but was offered the work after returning from an overseas trip and he started the job in March.
"The office isn't as good, and occasionally it's a wee bit frustrating not having the blue shirt on."
At the required time he picks up the unmarked van, travels to assigned areas in the central police district and parks in approved camera sites.
The patrol district ranges from Bulls through to Otaki, and Dannevirke to Eketahuna.
"I might start and come down south of Otaki, set up, and then work my way up to Palmerston North."
While the work is not as exciting as his former police role, sometimes he can still help police on the hunt for potential offenders.
"I see every vehicle that goes past, and if they're looking for a particular vehicle I can give them a progress report for it. They've caught a couple of drink-drivers, and a couple of dangerous drivers off my sightings.
"Apart from that it's just a case of sitting there and trying to keep the gear working."
His new job will see him working till May next year, when the rollout of new fixed, then mobile speed cameras begins.
As for operating the widely unpopular cameras, Bigwood said they were effective in helping cut the road toll.
"Nearly all Kiwis played team sports when they were a kid, and the first time that they made a mistake they usually stopped because they knew they'd done something wrong, but the referee hadn't blown the whistle. What did everybody on the sideline scream at them? 'Play to the whistle'."
It was the same on the roads, Bigwood said - unless "the whistle is blown every now and again", people's behaviour would slip.
"If the enforcement's not there, speeds will creep up again," he said.
Bigwood said that in his 40-year police career he never found an easy way to tell people that a family member had been killed in a crash.
"While I don't have to do that anymore - the blueshirts do that - at least I know I'm helping them not having to do that," Bigwood said.
"If I attended a crash where young people were killed and it was totally preventable, that knocked me round for weeks."