Obstacles put in the way of police doing their job, retiring detective senior sergeant says

Detective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett is retiring from the police after more than 24 years to start a new career as a ...
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Detective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett is retiring from the police after more than 24 years to start a new career as a real estate agent.

A veteran police officer says stretched resources and policy changes are making it "difficult to catch crooks".

Detective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett, who leaves the police on Friday after a career spanning more than 24 years, said more staff was the only way to combat the growing crime rate.

Reported crime has been on the rise since 2013 and Burnett said it was partially due to criminals rolling the dice and taking their chances knowing current police resources were stretched.

Detective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett has supported calls to bolster police numbers in New Zealand.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Detective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett has supported calls to bolster police numbers in New Zealand.

"I think that there is a fair proportion of that going on, I think you would be naive to think that that is not the case. They do play the game and it is a game of cops and robbers," Burnett said.

READ MORE
Facebook increasingly a part of the Taranaki criminal's toolkit
Man charged with Roigard murder
Where is Aaron's body? Emotional pleas for David Roigard to reveal the truth
Eerie echoes in death case
Fatal Waitara house fire an accident


Labour leader Andrew Little has promised 1000 extra police will be put on the beat during its first term in government, should the party come to power, and Burnett is backing the call.

"We need more police, there's only one way that you are going to bring down crime and that's with a consistent concentrated approach to what that issue is - drugs, burglaries or whatever."

Dectective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett leaves the High Court at New Plymouth in December after David Roigard was found ...
CHARLOTTE CURD/Fairfax NZ

Dectective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett leaves the High Court at New Plymouth in December after David Roigard was found guilty of killing his son Aaron Roigard.

While Burnett understood the theory behind a recent change to focus on the rapidly rising number of burglaries nationally he said it shouldn't have to come at the expense of other areas of policing including specialist squads targeting organised crime.

"They are looking at reducing the numbers and yet organised crime is growing because we can't do it all with the limited pool of resources, so we have got to try and do the most with what we have got.

"We are never going to beat it that way."

Detective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett at a cordon during an armed police call out in Inglewood in 2015.
Andy Jackson/Fairfax NZ

Detective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett at a cordon during an armed police call out in Inglewood in 2015.

Policy changes and Health and Safety regulations were also impacting officers ability to do their jobs, the former freezing worker said.

Ad Feedback

"It's almost difficult to catch crooks, it's almost difficult to catch drug dealers, it's almost like there's obstacles put in the way to catch these people although we have all the tools and resources to do it.

"There's so much policy and procedure and things that go on that everything is difficult."

Burnett said when he was stationed in Hawera between 2005 and 2013 crime was at an all time low because officers were able to get out and just do their job looking after their own patch.

"We had a mandate at that time to do what we thought was right in order to get the job done and we got it done and cleaned it up."

However since police became centralised crime was again rising because of a lack of focus on local issues.

"We lost, I guess, sight or we lost the ability to do everything and focus on what we felt locally, what should be focused on.

"We took a lot of pride in our patch and with that pride comes committed and motivated, enthusiastic staff and the desire, you know passion if you like, to do a good job."

Under the centralised model police were sometimes supplying resources to other areas in the district which prevented them being used to focus on issues in their own area, he said.

"We inadvertently have lost sight, I believe, of our own problems and our ability to manage and deal with our own problems.

"Absolutely it can be frustrating for staff."

Burnett said the police were often used as a political football by successive governments looking to reduce crime and sway voters but the continual new directions took its toll.

"Some of the things that they've done, I don't think have been beneficial for the police." 

After leaving school aged 16 Burnett, who had never considered a career in the police, went farming for a while, worked on a shearing gang and spent time working in a dairy factory making cheese before getting a job at the freezing works in Hawera, where he spent nine years before deciding their was no future in it for him.

"I can remember looking down the chain one day and I saw these old buggers and they were working away and I thought if I stay here I'm going to be just like them."

Burnett again tried his hand at farming before winding up in Dunedin selling building supplies when mates from his rugby team suggested he could join the police.

"I went along to a recruiting thing and next thing I know they rang me up said you're in and so I joined the police."

Training College held a few surprises for the new recruit.

"It was a real culture shock to me actually, there's all these rules and procedures and polices. You can't just bust into houses and grab crooks, I was mortified.

"I had no idea of what I was getting into."

Despite the unexpected rules and regulations Burnett began walking the beat in Hawera in 1992 and has steadily risen through the ranks to become a detective senior sergeant at the end of 2013.

Overall Burnett said he had enjoyed his career in the force but is now starting another chapter in his life, as a rural real estate agent for McDonald's, which felt surreal.

"The police has been a fantastic career.

"I've accepted the fact that I'm leaving and I haven't got eight or ten years doing what I'm doing so I needed to consider my options and therefore change.

"I either stay until I'm 60 and put up with whatever happens, deal with whatever happens or see what happens or leave and try something new and that's why I've gone."

Burnett said he had mixed emotions about the new direction which he had only been able to take due to the support of his wife Robyn.

"I'm excited and I'm anxious and a bit nervous, it feels surreal, this has been my life for almost half of my life."

During his career Burnett has been involved in a number of high profile cases, including robberies and homicides, but he said the 2014 murder of Aaron Roigard had provided both a highlight and low point.

He said the investigation and subsequent conviction of Aaron's father David Roigard in December 2015, who was sentenced in February to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 19 years, without a body was a positive.

"It's rare, the team were outstanding.

"The low light really is Aaron is still missing."

The missing piece meant Burnett was leaving the job with unfinished business.

"I've got a promise yet to fulfil and that's to find Aaron, I told Julie [Aaron's partner] I would and I haven't."

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Auckland's oldest skywalker

Man Kaur, 101, and her son Gurdev Singh, 79, complete the SkyWalk.

At 101, she's the oldest athlete at the World Masters Games. Now, she's the oldest to walk on top of the Sky Tower.

Horse rescued from crashed float

The "horrible" crash occurred on the southern motorway near Pukukohe.

Jaws of life were used to free a trapped horse after "horrible" accident south of Auckland.

Along came a little lump

Dylan Bowman, 21, wants to try motivational speaking, to share his story and his outlook on life.

It all started with a few clumsy stumbles in the kitchen. Now, chef Dylan Bowman has a "nasty tumour".

Truckie thrown from vehicle

Westpac Rescue Helicopter is airlifting the truckie to hospital.

Man seriously injured after crash near Wellsford in Northland shuts section of SH1.

Wellington

Gunner Billy's high-seas adventure

Cigarette-card portrait of World War I hero William 'Gunner Billy' Sanders.

The VC winner lived and died in a boy's own dream.

NZ seeks military craft

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes will replace a fleet of retiring P-3K planes.

Four airplanes from US would replace a retiring fleet of P-3K maritime patrols.

Car upside down on train tracks video

Car ends up on railway tracks after veering off road

It crashed through a fence after veering off the road in Lower Hutt, briefly disrupting the train network.

Woman hit by car dies

Churchill Dr, Crofton Downs, was closed for a while after the collision on Saturday morning.

Fatality in Gisborne while nasty crash in Wellington closes road temporarily.

Canterbury

Theatrical climate change march

The People's Climate Parade march towards the Avon River.

Key messages were expressed on stage in a "family-friendly" protest.

Small town Chinese garden scandal

The West Coast town of Kumara has a population of about 300.

Westland council allows tiny town's "nest egg" to be used for a garden many don't want.

Used office furniture glut hits Chch

Faced with four floors of surplus furniture to dispose of, Canterbury District Health Board services manager Pauline ...

Christchurch is the place for a bargain as tenants in new office buildings get rid of cast offs.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

Invercargill rocked to core after a love triangle turned fatal. Where did it all go wrong?

Waikato

Architectural wonders revealed

The new law and management building at Waikato University was designed by Opus Architecture.

A lot of well known Waikato and Bay of Plenty buildings - and spaces - have earned accolades.

It's our turn to fix this

A medical school backed by Waikato Hospital, pictured, and Waikato University  seeks to train GPs to fill a critical ...

OPINION: The old boys have failed to fix New Zealand's doctor shortage, now it's our turn.

Join the fight for our med school

Waikato University vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley and Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray.

A proposed medical school in the Waikato has the Government interested.

Ref raids accounts

050711 NEWS. Robert Charles/Taranaki Daily News. Cheque/ cheque book. Money. Bank.

Colleagues blew the whistle on referee who swiped $13K and a video camera.

Taranaki

Faith in the future

Taranaki Cathedral of St Mary's, Bishop Philip Richardson, centre, blesses Dean of St Mary's Very Reverend Peter Beck as ...

New Zealand's oldest church is being strengthened and it's about more than bricks and mortar.

Mystery is solved 

An unusual search and rescue mission was launched on Mt Taranaki, after a backpack was left behind at Holly Hut.

Backpack sparked search and rescue mission after being left behind in mountain hut.

Campbell Lane opens

South Taranaki District mayor Ross Dunlop officiated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

New development in Hawera gets the thumbs-up from residents.

To Hollywood by motorbike

Todd Holland's work appears on motorbikes in Hollywood movie Ghost in the Shell.

A small-town car painting shop has made it big, with its work featuring in Ghost in the Shell.

Manawatu

Tourism tips in the 1920s

Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles' wedding day.

Memory Lane: How to attract more tourists? The Standard had the answer 95 years ago.

13 reasons to watch

"13 Reasons Why" Star Gets A Tweet From Her Idol Lady Gaga!

Come on kids, time to watch controversial show dealing with suicide.

New act counters cyberbullying

The Harmful Digitial Communications Act was passed in July 2015.

Act helps as more than 20 people prosecuted for posting harmful content online.

NZDF civilians take strike action

Civilian employees of NZDF are on strike about pay.

Union accuses Defence Force of intimidation.

Nelson

Not a house, it's a croquet shelter

Athol Turner has a few home comforts at the Hinemoa Croquet Club shelter, including coffee and a biography of Alec Guiness.

As the Nelson City Council looks to implement a new law banning sleeping in the city we meet a man who has made a croquet club his home.

Housing crisis help?

David Barnes, right, with his son Samuel Barnes who needs medical care, pictured with the dwelling David built for him ...

A Nelson man built a home on his property for his mentally-ill son. Could this solve our housing issues?

Guilty of murder

Philip Quayle died after being attacked on a street in Cairns, Australia, about 100 metres from home.

A man who choked a Nelson man to death during a random street attack in Cairns has been found guilty of murder.

Taking a leaf out of the future video

Nelson Mail Journalist Tim O'Connell with the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle(EV) that the Nelson Mail has had on loan from ...

Tim O'Connell shares the thrills, trials and tribulations of driving an electric vehicle.

Marlborough

Ophthalmology waiting list halved

The ophthalmology service at Nelson Marlborough Health has been remodelled which has cut the waiting list for those ...

The health board has remodelled its ophthalmology service and cut the waiting list for those needing follow-up.

Pokies accused 'collateral damage'

The Department of Internal Affairs said Mike O'Brien was "unsuitable" to be involved in the pokie gambling business.

Inquiry into who was behind pokie machine operations was flawed, says lawyer.

Old dog with new tricks

Vincent the retired guide dog plays Sandy in the new production of Annie.

A retired guide dog is treading the boards as the furry star of Marlborough's newest musical.

It's the climb

Blenheim cyclist Andrew Bidwell, 16, is aiming for a podium finish at the upcoming Age Group Road National Championships ...

When another cyclist said he was going to make Andrew's race hell, he laughed it off and smashed the pack by five minutes.

South Canterbury

Parents remember 'talented' son

Rowan Yeager died following a crash near Lake Ohau on Anzac Day. This photo, supplied by friend Andrew Weatherall, shows ...

Man killed in crash near Lake Ohau was just a week off moving into house he built by hand.

Cleverley 'exonerated'

Former South Canterbury District Health Board chair Murray Cleverley has spoken out for the first time about his ...

Former SCDHB chair Murray Cleverley says decision to resign as chair was tough.

'We have got a lot of work to do'

SCDHB chief executive Nigel Trainor says the DHB is going try and improve low rates of HPV vaccination by providing more ...

SC has a 'poor' HPV vaccination rate, prompting the DHB to turn to social media.

Strong winds lash SC

Police were called to the scene of a camper van crash on Friday afternoon, thought to be caused by the wind.

Tourists escape with minor injuries after two campers blown off road south of Tekapo.

Southland

'They thought it was a dolphin' video

The French tourist arrives at Dunedin Hospital by helicopter after she was attacked by a shark while bodyboarding in ...

A French tourist who survived a shark attack wrenched its jaws from her legs, a local surfer says.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

A city's been rocked after a broken marriage ended in death. Where'd it all go wrong?

Ocean swimming 'sharks' territory'

Lydia Ward holds her wetsuit with tooth holes and the boogie board she used to fend off a 1.5m shark that bit her on the ...

A former shark attack victim has urged a tourist bitten by a shark to stay true to her passions - including ocean swimming.

Rugby's presidential change

Outgoing Rugby Southland president Donald Hay.

One Eastern Southland rugby stalwart goes, another one replaces him.

Ad Feedback