There's a new face behind the officer in charge desk at the Waipukurau police.

New to the position that is, but not new to the community.

Sergeant Neil Baker has been appointed to the role, taking it up on July 6, replacing Sergeant Mel Humphries who has followed her passion for recruiting, and is now recruiting for Eastern District.

Neil has been a police officer for 22 years, beginning his career in Hastings.


As a constable, he took on a rotation in CHB and was here for nine years before a promotion took him back to the Hastings station for four years.

A return to CHB as second in command had him stationed back in Waipukurau for a further three years, followed by four years in an administrative role based largely in Hastings.

Throughout this time, Neil has remained living in CHB and says that, along with his administrative role bringing him to the Waipukurau station from time to time, has allowed him to maintain good contacts in CHB which means he can "hit the ground running."

"I have kept relationships going with the community, agencies and police staff as well as keeping up with the developments at the station, which opened as a multi agency centre at the end of June. It now houses police, Corrections and MSD.

"That co-location build and then the opening ceremony was a big event. It's an exciting investment in Waipukurau and its going really well. Good working relationships are being developed.

Neil says his stints in CHB have shown him that he really, really enjoys community-style policing.

"I will be back doing callouts and frontline policing, which I have missed. I like what we have here in CHB, I enjoy working with our community and our partner organisations towards solutions, which is something I feel is lacking in the bigger centres.

"I like knowing the community and the people. It gives a different feeling... that when something happens it affects you personally as a police officer, and the drive to get things happening is heightened. We're open to sitting down and talking with people and looking at different points of view, and different resolutions other than putting people before the courts.


"In saying that I also have zero tolerance for theft, especially burglaries, and for the supply and sale of drugs in our community."

He says CHB is lucky to have relatively low crime statistics and that is something he is keen to continue to improve on, as well as increasing police visibility in the region.

"I will encourage officers to be more visible. It can be as simple as walking through town and having a chat with people... Police visibility is our biggest deterrent and the community appreciates it."