Can Govt afford to cop thin blue line flak?
WARWICK RASMUSSEN - DEPUTY EDITOR
OPINION: Is our thin blue line about to be put under more pressure and get a lot thinner?
It seems that a bit of a perfect storm is brewing that may result in our law and order officials thinking twice about a future in New Zealand.
One ingredient in the storm became apparent when whispers arose about the possibility of a pay freeze for police officers. Negotiations around pay and conditions are always a testing area, especially when so many people are involved.
The Government is searching for ways to save money (or make cuts, depending on your political leanings).
But it would be a bit of a gamble to freeze pay for police officers, partly because of political fallout, but also the perception it would create; that is cutting corners on law and order.
The police force should be, and is, a career that to be encouraged.
One part is recruitment, but it's as important to retain good staff, not just for the police, but for the communities around the country that they serve.
What compounds the issue is that Australian authorities will happily snap up our officers, and haven't been shy about coming across the Tasman to snaffle our boys and girls in blue.
Gone are the days of Kiwis just heading to Bondi, the Gold Coast, and goldmines in Western Australia, now our police are in the Aussies' sights.
And when a third-year New Zealand policeman or woman can earn $20,000 more a year, with better leave, and professional development conditions, you can't blame them for at least considering handing in their badge here and heading west to the lucky country.
Of course, there is turnover and attrition among the workforce in any profession, but the police force is a slightly different beast. Keeping hold of staff benefits everyone.
Length of service also means growth of institutional knowledge and that can only be a good thing for investigating and solving crimes.
The Government has some difficult and delicate negotiations ahead to make sure our best police officers don't quit the force or skip the country for a better deal.
They backed down on making changes to student/teacher ratios after an overwhelming backlash.
Can they afford to do the same with the police?
It may have only lasted for 25 minutes, but it was an electric combination between Manawatu's Aaron Cruden and Aaron Smith for the All Blacks on Saturday night.
Cruden picked up a nasty injury that could put him out of commission for a while, but his play was exceptional and showed he's more than just an understudy for Daniel Carter.
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