Crowds get taste of station life
Thousands filed through the Nelson Police Station grounds on Saturday, helping to make the police open day the biggest show in town.
Nelson police and staff from partner agencies, such as victim support, mentoring scheme Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Neighbourhood Support, the New Zealand Fire Service and St John ambulance, were on hand to meet and greet members of the public at the open day, which was part of an inaugural New Zealand Police national open day.
The event was driven by the police commissioner and involved open days around the country.
Detective Sergeant Lex Bruning, of Nelson, said there was a constant stream of people from opening at 10am until closing at 2pm. He said it could have carried on longer but many of the staff who volunteered their time were scheduled for night shift later that day.
Nelson Bays area commander Inspector Steve Greally estimated about 1000 turned up within the first hour.
About 40 staff helped show people around the police station and demonstrated the many and varied activities of day-to-day policing.
Emma Coldren, 6, arrived wearing a paper police hat she made herself, perched on top of her long blonde hair. She made the hat because she wanted to play "cops and robbers", but did not think a job in the police was for her.
"I'm going to be Rapunzel one day," she said.
Six-year-old Angus Larking of Richmond proved he had a keen eye and a steady hand, with which he managed to blast a line of watermelons at a virtual shooting range used in police training. He said being in the police could be exciting, but he wanted to be a pirate.
Saffron Wheeler-Walters, 11, was equally as efficient with the pistol, helped by lead tactical options trainer, Bryn Olsen.
Stevie, Tyler and Kaylee Burke were busy trying on police paraphernalia after riding in a police car, having their police photo taken and their palm prints done.
Their mother Leanne Burke said when they first heard about the planned open day, they could not wait to get there and see what it was like being in a police cell. A demonstration of police tasers was particularly enthralling.
Greally said police cells and handcuffs were always the things that young children wanted to see. He remembered as a kid growing up in the Manawatu that the talk given at school by the constable was not half as exciting as visiting the jail.
"I've always wanted to be a policeman. Television shows like Hill St Blues and Chips [California Highway Patrol] got me hooked, even though I've never done traffic patrol in my life."
Greally said that having an open day was important for showing the public a positive side to policing.
"People get to see we're not just about arresting people, and that we work closely with these partner agencies.
"It's a serious, dangerous job but there's a fun side to it too. By doing this we can demonstrate that we're just people in the community doing a job."
Bruning said it was great to see staff engaged with the public to such a level.
"It was pleasing to see staff thinking creatively about how to involve the public. It was a really successful day," he said.
The Nelson Mail