Hundreds of families flocked to the Tauranga Police Station open day yesterday for what has become a hugely popular peep behind the scenes of law enforcers.

It was the first time Andrew and Sanette Mitchley had brought their two sons to the event in which the station threw open its doors to offer people a real hands-on insight into the job.

Balloons and sausages added a party atmosphere to the occasion, with Mr Mitchley enjoying the awareness created by the open day.

He said they took their boys Oliver, 5, and Joshua, 9, through the booze bus, telling them if they drink and drive then this was where they would end up.

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The Mitchleys arrived from South Africa eight years ago, with Andrew running a Crew Cut lawn and garden business that included looking after war veterans' gardens and keeping police stations tidy.

By midway through the morning, police recruiting selection specialist Rob Venner had filled up four pages with names and addresses of people contemplating a career in the police.

''We are hoping to drive up a lot of interest,'' he said.

Tauranga police response manager Senior Sergeant Mark Pakes said it was a magnificent turnout by the community and better than he hoped.

''There is a really good vibe - everyone is interested in what we are doing.''

Special displays offering one-on-one participation for kids included scene of crime investigators, the armed offenders squad and getting up close to a squad car. Community initiatives like Victim Support and Neighbourhood Support were also out in force.

A highlight of the morning was an armed offenders re-enactment focused on bringing down a bad guy at the Monmouth Redoubt.

Open days were held up and down the country, with Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Andy McGregor saying it was an opportunity for police to connect with their local communities and promote the police as a career path.