Wakefield to lose police officer
Wakefield will lose one of its two long-serving police constables under a proposal that a resident says is a "backwards step".
The Wakefield station will remain open under the proposal and the remaining Wakefield officer will still be on call.
The current Wakefield officers are Marty Tutton and Peter Cobledick.
Nelson Bays area commander Inspector Steve Greally said the proposed reduction in Wakefield was due to the need to tweak a restructuring of the Nelson Bays police force last year.
One of the major changes was a move to staff the Motueka station 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so police could respond immediately to emergencies at night rather than being on call and responding from home.
During that restructure the idea of reducing the number of police officers in Wakefield was explored, but was later dropped. The idea was opposed in the community.
Mr Greally said at the time the two Wakefield officers did an important job, had excellent local knowledge and identified with their community.
This week Mr Greally said a review of the 24-hour Motueka coverage had shown non-general duties staff had been called in to help cover the station when officers were sick or on leave, which was not ideal.
Mr Greally said the rural communities deserved a faster response than having to wake up officers on call to get them to respond to emergencies.
It was faster to deploy staff from a station during the night than to contact on-call staff at home, who then had to get dressed and get to the station before travelling to the incident, he said.
To boost numbers in Motueka two officers would be added to the general duty officers, bringing the number of general duty constables to 10.
One of those two extra officers would come from Wakefield.
The drugs constable position in Motueka would be disestablished to make up the second position at Motueka.
Mr Greally said the disestablishment of this specialised position did not mean that there would be less of a focus on drugs, as the tactical crime unit had its mandate changed to also include drugs.
A sergeant in Nelson would oversee the region at night and deploy the staff on duty in Nelson and Motueka as needed. Mr Greally expected to make a decision on Wakefield staffing on September 20.
"By and large the last restructure was very effective, we just need to tweak it so Nelson Bays can have the best service it can."
Wakefield vicar Allan Wasley said the community was hugely against the number of officers in the town being reduced. He said that would be seen as a "very backwards step".
Mr Wasley, who is also the chairman of the Wakefield Community Council, said it was already hard to get hold of a policeman and if no-one was available they had to come from Richmond. Richmond was no longer manned 24 hours so officers had to come from Nelson or Motueka.
Nelson was 30 minutes away in light traffic and 40 minutes during the day. He said Tapawera would also lose out in the move.
Mr Wasley said the two officers did a great job. "We really value having two of them and hope that continues."
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