Katikati gains in police rejig

By Amy McGillivray


A restructuring of Western Bay of Plenty police will see an extra officer stationed in Katikati.

Western Bay of Plenty police area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton told the Bay of Plenty Times the restructuring of the region's police force would see a sergeant stationed alongside Katikati's three constables.

The senior sergeant role in Te Puke would be disestablished and replaced by a sergeant.

Te Puke Senior Sergeant Deirdre Lack will instead be based at Mount Maunganui and oversee Mount Maunganui, Papamoa and Te Puke.

Katikati community patrol co-ordinator Shirley Vincent said the town needed more police officers.

"People have got the attitude that when they call the police there's no one there.

"An extra police officer's going to make a huge difference," Mrs Vincent said.

Community patrol volunteers regularly found themselves driving the streets when there were no police working in the area.

The public did not have a good impression of the police because it seemed there was often no one available, she said.

Katikati Community Board chairman Brendan Gibbs said the area was "totally understaffed" and the community had been pushing for more police for years.

The three officers had to look after a town of about 4000 people and a catchment area which included another 7000, he said.

"There are times when it's very frustrating," Mr Gibbs said.

"I've had a person smashing my windows and going to rip my head off, and I called the police and they said 'Can you hold him there for 35 minutes, a policeman is on his way from the Kaimais'."

Mr Paxton said Katikati had been under consideration for a long time.

"With the Western Bay of Plenty continuing to grow, and also looking at the crime levels, it was our view that to future proof that role there was an opportunity to put a sergeant in at that station," he said.

"It more appropriately sits at the sergeant level to meet the needs of the community."

Mr Paxton said the removal of the Te Puke based senior sergeant would have no effect on the way police served the community.

Ms Lack said the change would be beneficial to the Te Puke community as she could facilitate a more collaborative approach.

She would move into the new role of sub-area response manager, based at Mount Maunganui, on July 1.

The role would replace the senior sergeant position previously held by Senior Sergeant Joel Lamb.

Mr Paxton stressed there would be no job losses during the restructuring, which was part of the changes being made to realign with the new national structure created under the Prevention First policy.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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