Nelson's police chief and the city's mayor plan to hold monthly coffee chats as an informal way of getting the public's views on community issues.
Inspector Steve Greally and mayor Rachel Reese met for a coffee at the corner of Trafalgar and Bridge Sts last week to launch the initiative.
Mr Greally said he and Ms Reese met behind closed doors to talk about how to make the Nelson community a safer place but thought, "why not take this directly to the people?".
The Nelson City Council was the police's biggest stakeholder, and it was imperative that they worked together, he said. Their aim was to make Nelson the safest place in the country.
The trend was positive, with reported crime dropping 16 per cent since 2008, Mr Greally said.
He wanted the community to know that he and Ms Reese were there to listen.
"We want to reduce bureaucracy as much possible.
"I just cannot see this as a bad thing. We should call all police to implement this same strategy across New Zealand.
"It should not be up to the public to have to access us. We should be going to them."
While he planned to make the coffee chats a monthly event, they would not be a forum for people to talk about individual criminal cases, he said. There were other avenues available to do this.
Instead, the initiative was about community issues.
"Every single person who lives, works or transits through Nelson has the right to be safe and feel safe."
Ms Reese said it was great to establish and maintain a positive relationship with the Nelson community.
She understood that sometimes it could be hard for the public to meet with senior police officials or council staff.
"It was great to see people taking the time to come down and see us [last week], and they had some great suggestions."
She said it was nice to receive some very positive feedback about the state of Bridge St. One couple said they had noticed a vast positive difference in the past two years. "That is a great credit to the work of the police."
Honorary beach warden Addo Mulders said he came to the coffee chat because he wanted to meet the mayor to put a face to a name and to thank her for her fine work.
Mr Mulders, who has been a warden for 25 years, fought hard to divide Tahunanui Beach into dog and non-dog areas. He was happy when the council finally came on board this year.
"It is unbelievable that you can have such direct contact with our mayor and head of police."
Meanwhile, Tahunanui resident Jill Southern said she saw the invitation to the coffee chat in the newspaper and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to meet the new mayor informally.
"I zoomed down just to see her."
She said she also wanted to use the public forum as an opportunity to raise some issues about the Tahunanui area, and to thank the council and police for all their good work. She could see that crime was definitely decreasing in the suburb.
Mr Greally and Ms Reese appeared to be very receptive and understanding, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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