I first met constable Paul Wrigley at a Bay secondary school's world-record attempt for the most people eating a marshmallow simultaneously.

The next time we communicated was via a text message - he signed off with a police emoji.

Now, I'm a passenger in his patrol car - and we're halfway through our interview.

"I don't want my photo taken outside the police station," he says.


He wants to be relatable, slightly informal, but still showing authority.

"I don't want to be made a celebrity."

So the photograph is taken on Tauranga's waterfront, where the new community cop will be walking the beat.

He is casual and conversational as we wait for the photographer to arrive.

Two men have walked up to Mr Wrigley's police car parked at The Edgewater Fan, drunk and disorderly, and carrying a big bottle of red.

"You guys are wasted," says the constable as he winds down his window. He gets out of the vehicle to deal with the situation.

A conversation takes place before the constable removes the bottle of red from one man's hand, pours it on the concrete, and places the bottle in the rubbish.

"There is a liquor ban here, you can't have this," he says before ushering the men on their way.


"You missed an opportunity there," he jokes with the photographer, who has just arrived.

A few young bystanders take interest in why a policeman is being photographed. They joke about being in the photo.

He calls their bluff and invites them into the photo and asks how the "cool kids" would pose for a photograph these days.

He's now the "cool" cop.

He explains his casual communication style.

"Occasionally when I communicate with members of the public, complainants etc, they enjoy a degree of humour. Using what's available on our iPhones now everyone seems to be talking in that way."

But don't mistake his seriousness about the job he does.

Mr Wrigley has 20 years' experience on the frontline, not only as a uniformed officer but also as a detective constable. He's also worked in burglary squads.

The 43-year-old cop was recruited in Auckland where he spent his first eight years policing before moving to Tauranga for family reasons about 10 years ago.

"From a frontline point of view, I have worked in all of the relevant squads in relation to traffic, alcohol harm reduction and patrol work with first-response teams," he said.

The community constable has also worked at Police Northern Communications. "So I have an understanding of what it is like to call 111 and what happens when you call triple 1.

"That is an important message that people understand what happens when they call 111 and how best they can be helped from that point."

As a frontline police officer, the constable has attended many family violence incidents and dealt with people who have been the victims of serious assaults.

"That experience has taught me that even though what has happened to people and what has been done by some people to others, sometimes there is more to the situation than meets the eye," Mr Wrigley said.

He stopped because his experience gained both in police and life in general gave him something more to offer.

"Even after 20 years in the police I still have a high level of empathy which possibly would be considered by some as unusual for someone with so much frontline experience."

The community still has its criminals - and the new community cop is on the job.

There was a few months' break in the community cop role after the previous constable retired from the police this year. Mr Wrigley takes the role for the next three years.

He says his new role as community constable will include preventing crimes, identifying the cause and either reducing it or putting it to an end.

"I am a police officer because I am quite happy to deal with all strata of society," says the constable.

He enjoys the people contact.

"This role is the opportunity to maintain the same community connection as a frontline cop but with a completely different focus."

He also likes the contrast. "I like that I can be dealing with the council at one moment or, as you saw, dealing with an intoxicated male who had come to me in a liquor ban area. You can go from great contrast very quickly."

He jokes that he sometimes plays the role of a low-level psychologist.

"You need to change your response in the way you present yourself for every situation you deal with," he says. "You can't just have one blanket approach to a lot of the problems or issues presented to you."

His role has many facets. The first is dealing with the community groups already working with the police, including Neighbourhood Support and community patrol.

Mr Wrigley says it is important to continue to foster those relationships to gain better community connection.

"If we can encourage people to connect with their community they can feel safer."

He says he will be walking the beat.

"That is something that I perceive, anecdotally, that the community like to see - a policeman with their hat on.

"I think that people respond to that image quite well as opposed to the people patrolling up and down the street."

Sometimes the public will call 111 to report something where prosecution probably isn't appropriate. That's where the community cop comes in.

"There are many civil disputes that occur in the community where there is a degree of criminality, but it is clear even from the outset that the result isn't necessarily a black-and-white decision.

"That's where I believe I was employed because I am quite willing and happy to deal with issues in the community that are a bit grey."

Black and white issues are easy to solve, he says. "But often with some of these issues there is a degree of truth and a degree of right and wrong on both sides and what is missing is an understanding or a connection."

Mr Wrigley preaches the neighbourhood support message.

"Often some of these issues have arisen in the community between neighbours because they have failed to connect with each other before that was an issue."

Get to know your neighbours, he says. "If there is a blackout or a burglary, if they have already built those relationships, then there is an understanding.

"But when there is a problem, hopefully, these matters will not necessarily come to our attention, or, if they do, it can be resolved amicably."

Mr Wrigley will also work alongside councils looking at CCTV footage, where it is and where it is monitored.

"CCTV does have an impact on offending and it is a good aid to discourage offending and assist us in solving crime."

We have apparently kept our new community cop "exceedingly busy" since his first day on the job on July 1.

He has even started a notebook, common practice apparently. Mr Wrigley thumbs through the pages and starts to read out some of his experiences so far.

"I have been walking the beat," he says. "Speaking to people who live on the streets here in Tauranga who seem to live there by choice.

"I am interested in making sure they behave appropriately and respect other people in the CBD. So they are getting to know me."

He's also been able to exercise his experience and authority as a frontline officer, arresting people for offences when necessary.

"It is a role that where you wear plenty of hats and it is important to me that I identify my priorities," he says.

There have been many cups of tea as he has introduced himself to the different community patrol and neighbourhood support groups.

What has come out of all those cups of tea has been a common theme of enjoying a police presence in the community.

"I am getting a fairly positive vibe about the city," says Mr Wrigley.

"People are telling me about things they see that are out of character for their area. A lot of the reports that I am hearing are telling me about events or incidences that have struck them as being unusual."

Those "out-of-the-ordinary" incidences include speeding drivers or suspicious people.

Sometimes it will be issues not directly linked to police, like road designs causing traffic congestion.

Road safety and preventing road trauma is something Mr Wrigley says is part of a police officer's role, but not directly.

Overall, this cool community cop is a good one at that. But even the good ones need time out to rejuvenate. When his "hat" isn't on, Mr Wrigley likes to get outdoors.

"I am very sport-related. I am just as likely to be trail running in the mountain or surfing if the surf's up."