Training in area 'not due to crime'

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Police are reassuring Flaxmere residents their latest training exercise in the suburb has not been in anticipation of a major crime wave, but because the town provides the ideal locations to test its armed offenders squad.

The squad held several training days each year as part of a national programme and the latest was held at Flaxmere College on Thursday afternoon.

Hastings District Council's Flaxmere ward councillor Henare O'Keefe said he was worried police had decided to hold the training exercise in the suburb because it often attracted negative media attention.

But the Head of the Hawke's Bay armed offenders squad Sergeant Bryan Smith said he wanted to make it clear Flaxmere was selected on its merits as an ideal location for the staff to train.

"The Flaxmere College was chosen because it gave the squad experience in a school environment and also in a built-up urban area.

"The training was done with the full permission and co-operation of the school.

It was done out of school hours and there were only a few students still on the school grounds when the training began," Mr Smith said.

Other locations used by the squad on Thursday were the now-disused Pukeora Home for the Disabled in Central Hawke's Bay and the EIT in Taradale.

The locations for regular training exercises were selected from all around Hawke's Bay to give the squad experience in any potential situations that may occur in the community, such as public areas, commercial businesses, schools, hospitals, farms, factories as well as in urban and rural areas.

Mr Smith said police always consulted with building owners or occupiers about using their premises for training and everyone who needed to know was fully informed of what would be taking place.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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